As a child of the seventies I enjoyed many of the vegetable of that decades cultural stew. In the book department (when not watching Chips) were the Serendipity books. Stephen Cosgrove and Robin James’ series about animals and made up creatures that teach a moral lesson. And while Wheedle on the Needle has a special place in my heart 1976’s Bangalee will always take top honors on my favorites list. The story revolves around the messy Kritters who make Pigpen look like an Purell ad. Of course every Kritter is a total slob except Bangalee who some would say has obsessive compulsive disorder. The other Kritters make fun of him but he knows that nothing good every came out of chaos and preaches clean living. The big garbage eating monster known as the Grunk comes to Kritter castle in the story’s second act conflict. I won’t spoil the ending but it is fair to say that some people learn an important lesson, a lesson that is easily relatable for parents and kids.
As long time Beyond the Car Seat readers know well LTD is now heavy into Star Wars or the “original” star wars as I have him referred to it. I could not be more happy that he loves the rebels or constantly dresses as Lord Vader, but we do try and limit his screen time and feed his love of art. In that regard, Chris Alexander’s “Star Wars Origami: 36 Amazing Paper-folding Projects from a Galaxy Far, Far Away….” answers the call. LTD is a little young for the projects, but truthfully with my ripping paper instead of folding it we need The Mommy anyway. Thankfully, the beginning pages focus on basic paper folding before entering the world of young Skywalker. The book has levels from easy to Jedi Master so it works for a lot of different abilities and again we need The Mommy in order to make Boba Fett’s ship.
When I was the age LTD is now I had I pretty cool personalized story book about a talking trash can (I think). There is something neat about seeing a real book with your name in it. My book had typed inserts for my name and info but we are in the future now and I See Me! has perfected the seamless art of personalizing books. The I See Me! books strive to make the illustrations and stories as interesting as possible with a desire to not have your name in it be the only thing cool inside. The books are available in traditional story form featuring Pirates or Fairies, but you can also get coloring books, holiday or birthday books and big brother or sister books. The books put a focus on the letters in the child’s name so unfortunately kids named JP don’t get their money’s worth but those named Bartholomew make out like bandits. And of course this being modern days you can even get a personalized book for the iPad.
Every time The Mommy gets out the Yoga mat LTD can’t help but take over. He is pretty good at downward dog and tree pose but has a hard time paying attention long enough to learn others or find his center. However, Laurie Jordan’s book Yawning Yoga: A Goodnight Book for a Good Night’s Sleep plays to his calm moments at bedtime. The goal of the book is to help kids rid themselves of stress and negative energy so they can fall asleep quickly and have a more restful sleep when they finally do. I mean who could argue with that.
You can count on two things if you are raising a child in this world, at some point there will be a part of your life that deals with dinosaurs and the second, is that, Arrrrrrrrrr! There be pirates. My Pirate’s Tale by B. L. Medeiros is more than a storybook but as she says, it’s an adventure kit. The treasure includes all you need to build your own pirate legend including gold coins, eye patch, bandana, and telescope. The goal of the kit is to craft a story that will change as your child grows. You can still read the book if you don’t feel like turning the house into a full on Blackbeard vs. Captain Jack Sparrow dust up, but what’s the fun in that.
Since LTD has proclaimed the Ladybug as his favorite bug, The Mommy and I want him to be able to discuss his love for said bug in accurate terms. The Budding Biologist book series allows us to do just that. Started by two moms, the series seeks to make up for decades of false animal biology in children’s literature. However, they fail to address why Goofy is a dog and Pluto is a dog but one can talk and one cannot.
The 2012 book, I Ate All Your Cookies by Quinn Conroy, is a gift for that new parent when you don’t want join everyone else in getting them another cute stuffed animal. The book collects all the things that parents want to tell their kids but for obvious reasons can not. “The fact that you eat glue makes me wonder if you’re really as smart as I tell other people you are,” is an example of a winner. Some of the offerings aren’t really laugh out loud funny and fall on the more quaint spectrum. However, the real gems lie in the hard truths of parenting like, “I lied. The cookies aren’t all gone. I’m going to eat them when you’re asleep. And they’re going to be delicious.”
The little guy has been wanting to name body parts and systems as of late. Perhaps his interest is due to the fact that I want him to be the next Doogie Howser and practiced the MCATs with him. So far his knowledge is pretty basic mostly bones and asking if our dog has a body. Usborne Beginners has a book called, Your Body and it uses a combination of drawings and photos to depict the different systems in the human body. For example, breathing is demonstrated through both a balloon cartoon and an MRI image of real lungs. The explanation of body processes uses sentences that while simple actually gets the point across. I think some of the things in the book are a little above LTD’s paygrade and while we aren’t anywhere near Doogie Howser levels, the other day he did ask me what the esophagus did.
The Kid Dictionary author Eric Ruhalter offers some toddler boy insights. His book is full of hilarious words to describe the indescribable things kids do. After all, we’ve all heard Blubberish (the incomprehensible breathless stammering of a crying child trying to tell you what happened to her), and it’s a rare parent that’s never had to treat an Invisibooboo (the site on a child’s body where you unnecessarily applied a bandage to appease him when he got hurt, even though no blood ever appeared). If you ever happen upon a large group of little boys playing and you see a toy in their midst and want to know who it belongs to, just ask any kid at random to touch it. The owner is the kid who immediately bounds over, screaming “THAT’S MINE!!!!!” Possessive little buggers aren’t they? But perhaps this is just a normal social phenomenon. They will grow into adults out in the world trying to stake their claim. They will establish themselves and develop their ability to provide for themselves and eventually their families. They’re not going to get very far at that by letting any and everyone just take their stuff. No sir.
You’d think, you’d hope, that they’d also be programmed to be charitable and share, such as grownups do when they donate money or things or time and effort to give back to their community. But, unfortunately, little kids aren’t yet wired that way, and don’t receive tax write-offs. Thus it may take some time before they develop the mind to enjoy and appreciate the rewards of giving.
But just think of “THAT’S MINE!” as sort of a child’s equivalent of copyright protection. Every kid wants what’s his remains his. This should, of course, go hand in hand with your kids understanding that things that DO NOT belong to him are not his to take and do with as he pleases. But it doesn’t. All in good time though. If we do our jobs correctly.
Many of you may have already heard of Dr. Thomas Phelan’s best selling childhood discipline bible, 1-2-3 Magic, but The Mommy and I are new converts. The system for dealing with behavior issues is really simple to understand but hard to implement. How can it be both good and hard at the same time you ask? It is hard because the system requires the parents to become zen monks and not blow our stacks. 1-2-3 Magic teaches the belief that unlike most parents thinking children are not little adults they are wild animals. Parents must become animal trainers. Everyone has heard of counting to three and if the bad behavior doesn’t stop then the child gets a timeout. Well this system uses counting in a way that makes long term changes. The adults need to count without emotion and then give the time out without talking or arguing. The book deals with how children have little control of their situation but one of the things they can control is a parent’s reaction. The system is great because when you do it correctly it works wonders. The challenge is to use it correctly and that is hard. I think the book should come with free xanax but it is pretty amazing what happens if you can pull off the system.