Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Happy "Ban the Baby Stuff" Birthday!

Today is Reid and Allie's 14th birthday.  Allie is celebrating in Yellowstone with maybe an especially large s'more at the campfire with her backpacking friends.  Reid and I will be at Chevy's with Carla and the "yippers."  Chevy's is a Mexican chain near us where the staff loudly shout birthday wishes in English and Spanish preceeded by a distinctive "yip, yip, yip." As a toddler, Reid was totally freaked out by this, dubbed them the yippers, and would anxiously inquire of us each visit, "Will there be yippers?" It is impossible to predict whether any other diners in the place have birthdays on a given night. But, we tried. At the first sight of a throng of waiters or even just one carrying the token sombrero, we'd give the warning to "cover your ears" or "get ready, here come the yippers." Advance notice (or pre-correcting as they call it at Reid's new school) really works! Tonight, we'll be ready and waiting for 'em. 

This year I have dubbed the "Ban the Baby Stuff Birthday." Somehow marketing works with Reid.  He can't resist the combination of advance notice and a catchy tune! Still enamored, obsessed, and inappropriately (:() consumed with Barney, Clifford, Elmo, and Teletubbies, Reid needs to move on.  This is the drastic measure we feel we must take. I will wipe the hard drive of baby stuff; clear the bookshelves and library basket; and prohibit any new baby material to enter the house from this date forward.

It's been a good vocabulary building opportunity. Reid asked me, "what does it mean 'ban?" And also, "where does the baby stuff go?" I answered honestly appreciating his skill of clarifying language and his submission to the plan. This may seem elementary to some but I know others will identify with the huge obstacle and catalyst for growth this represents. 

So here is my dilemma. What do I do with Arthur and Curious George? Don't you love the social skills and real life dilemmas Arthur, Francine and D.W. face and conquer? They are pragmatic heroes in my book.  I learn from Arthur. And Marc Brown wrote chapter books in addition to the picture books and videos! That gives him extra points in my rating system. Definite gray matter in the ban.

Don't get me started on George. We were discussing the ban yesterday in the car with my daughter and her friend who is a boy, also 14 and quite culturally relevant. His unsolicited comment was, "Curious George is not babyish." That was good enough for me. We can re-negotiate him? 

Way back when, I thought Curious George was a bad role model. He was always disobeying, or so I perceived. At some point along the line, my very own little monkey seemed to be a lot like George: impulsive with a huge heart, unquenchable curiosity and a penchant for pushing boundaries.  Being a good mother to him was going to require a new perogative. In a children's bookstore, I caught wind of a conversation where another customer described Curious George as the original ADHD hero.  The "good little monkey" inevitably gets into trouble and by the end of the story redeems himself with a good deed particularly suited to his unique skills and temperament.

While Reid's diagnosis is autism not ADHD, I know if I wanted that one too, we could could get it.  (I don't.) When he was young I often said if he'd lived in the 18th century he would have discovered a new continent.  Exploration was his specialty. Slow, stop, and pause were not on his control panel.

Reid knows right from wrong and can itemize it in the clear--like George on page 1
of each story. He can repeat the expectations back to the man with the yellow hat. But doing the right thing is a wholly different matter, for any of us. Do I need to give you an example? 

Reid knows it is not OK to bite people. He can win the Mind Your Manners board game hands down. However, in the heat of a moment when enough variables are thrown in like on a road trip through South Dakota with too much talking in the front seat, rental car chemicals, and a foreign scenery including bison outside the window he lost his senses, leaned over without warning, spiked from 0-10 in 20 seconds and bit Allie in the shoulder unaware. That was once, years ago. Countless times he has come up behind her, put his arms around her shoulders and spontaneously crooned, "Alllllieee I love you" with the gentlest of kisses. In those moments he is irresistible, like George.

I have also learned more about the conception of George as spelled out in the YouTube clip above and in the book The Journey that Saved Curious George by Louise Borden. The book chronicles the life of H. A. Rey and his wife as they fled Nazi Germany on a bicycle with the George manuscripts in hand. Fascinating reading to further endear you to George.

Curiosity is a very intelligent trait. An article by disability activist, Kathie Snow enumerates it quite well. Not surprisingly, she quotes one of our other family heroes, Walt Disney.  He was an out of the box thinker. Explorers, inventors, and many famous visionaries with inquisitive minds have redefined our history and culture. I wonder if we would be disabled as a society had some of our members not had such diagnosable traits.  Now there's a curious thought. 

I think we'll keep George....for another year.

"Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.  Matthew 18:21-23

For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Romans 7:18-20

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Mark 14:37

photo credits:,

1 comment:

  1. Curious Reid. That connection (Reid and George) always made sense to me as well. I'm pretty sure I couldn't have outlined why as eloquently as you did.

    Yea. George isn't babyish... just as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang isn't either.

    Say hi to the yippers for me.