Books I hate to read (but do) – part I

I take my kids to the library weekly so they can pick out new books to enjoy at home.  My daughter (8) graduated to chapter books and picks a variety of fiction and non-fiction, but my son (4) gravitates to the same four shelves every week, just as his sister did at the same age.  Occasionally, he accepts my suggestions, but for the most part, I know we will come home with at least one Clifford or Berenstain Bear book.

Contrary to the slogan, I’m just going to say it — I don’t love Clifford.  I’ll give props to Norman
Bridwell for creating an iconic character that kids love, but that doesn’t mean I’ll share the love. As a parent, I loathe reading them.  As my husband points out, the art is terrible, but perhaps the kids like the drawing because the skewed perspective is a bit like theirs.

I’m more troubled by the continuity issues in the art rather than the style and quality of the art.  Buildings change color, size or disappear completely.  There are three distinct versions of the mother and at least as many versions of the father.  It makes me think Emily Elizabeth and Clifford have spent a lot of time bouncing through the child welfare system.

Artistic choices aside, I find the message unsettling.  The kids think Clifford’s foibles are funny.  I take away the message “you can only do good if you are big.” Clifford the puppy slips and falls and has to be rescued.  Clifford the Big Red Dog steps in to save a kitten from traffic, by causing an auto accident that so badly crunches the car, it’s a miracle the driver survived.  It makes sense that he could support a bridge, but the idea a building would burn to the ground if Clifford didn’t step in to help the fire-fighters is asinine. And an insult to the brave men and women who train hard to be fire fighters.

Time after time, Clifford is the best because he’s big.  I am not a big person.  I’m shorter than the average adult.  Does this mean I can’t do good? Does this mean my children cannot be helpful? That they will never be able to find the most easter eggs or lend a hand because they of merely average height? Is size really all that matters?  I hope not.

p.s – I’ll tackle the Berenstain Bears later.  In the meantime – what do you think?  I’m ready for the onslaught of Clifford lovers to sway my opinion.

How do they get so much done?

Every day or week that goes by without my posting a new blog, my mailbox fills with announcements of a new blog post by one of the many people I follow.  Several of my favorites find the humor in parenting and the surprising reality of being a stay at home mom.  They hit home and make me smile.  They also make me green with envy. How do these women find time to blog on a regular basis?

Suburban Snapshots details Brenna’s unexpected parenthood journey. And it’s freakin’ hilarious.  Most moms will probably wet their pants (a side effect of childbirth) the rest of you can simply enjoy learning how having a toddler is like being at a frat party.  I am in awe that her parenting brain works well enough to be witty. I’m not sure what happened to my brain.  I think it slunk off in shame during an endless game of Chutes and Ladders.

I am also utterly impressed with Amber of Parenting, Illustrated with Crappy Pictures.  For one thing, her art skills are superior to mine. After hours spent at the kitchen table with paper, crayons, markers and pencils, I end up with a beautiful refrigerator (the kids’ pictures) and a bunch of paper for the recycling (my efforts). I love the mix of humor and heart, but most of all I love knowing that I’m not the only one with the “five-hour rule.”

When I read these bloggers in particular, I feel better about neglecting the housework. I’m inept at it anyway. As for the kids letting me have a chance to read, well, thank goodness for bloggers who know how to make a site look good. The kids love the pictures, but my 8 yr old thinks Amber should hire her to do the illustrations.

I would love to blog about important stuff (see the half finished blogs on tunnel tolls and ultrasounds), or even the everyday stuff (Legos) and produce something on a more regular basis.  But I don’t.  I like my sleep, my TV and playing tapfish. My kids can play nicely on their own for hours, but once the computer comes out, they hang all over me, desperate and clingy.  They are jealous of the laptop. Just as I am jealous of those parents who can write a book, or a blog or even just have clean floors.  My hat off to those superheros among us.

Oh – and if you know of anyone else I should add to my regularly scheduled blog reading list, let me know.  I could use a few more ways to waste time.