Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Mommy Takes Baths Too

Dear Toddlers Everywhere,

I have made a Significant Discovery. The mommy takes Baths, too. I caught her Taking one last night, and Giggled so much. Then I went and Gathered up all the Toys that go in the Bath and brought them to her one by one. That was the Strangest thing: the mommy seemed to be Enjoying her Bath but she didn't have any Toys in it. Grownups don't think these things through.

Rule of Grownup Culture # 172:

Grownups rush into Everything without Planning first.

When the daddy is pouring my Bath, I always go and gather up each Toy that I want that night, one by one, and put them in the Bath. That's called Planning. It doesn't take Long, but it's how you make sure your Bath is a good time. I go get the bathtime Walrus, and the Penguin, and the Ribbet-Frog, and the Starfish, and lots of Balls. Then I look for anything else that can go in the Bath and that looks like it might be Fun, like Dirty Laundry or an Alarm Clock. And I bring those things to the Bathtub. Only sometimes the daddy takes them and doesn't let me put them in the Bath. That's called Censorship.

But the mommy doesn't plan her Bath, because she doesn't pick out her Toys before she steps into the Water. That's why I have to help the mommy.

Sometimes the Grownups are Totally Helpless and we Toddlers need to step in to make sure they don't get Bored.

Your helpful Toddler Anthropologist,

Baby River

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Toddler's Pledge of Allegiance

My fellow Toddlers,

This week is Grownup Appreciation Week. All the Grownups are Super Grouchy because of the Economy and being afraid they'll run out of Nom Noms, and not all of them have Mommies to take care of them. We need to help the Grownups feel as Appreciated as Possible, and help them get their Happy Back.

Here's what I do:

I make sure to clap my hands for the mommy whenever she does something extra special.
I pick up my Toys and put them away when I'm Done, and then Sometimes get them out again because that makes the mommy Giggle.
I give the mommy Cuddles when she doesn't feel well.

I've also written this Pledge of Allegiance, which I am submitting to the Toddler Research Society for their Consideration and Approval. Here it is, and it took super hard work to make it, so listen super carefully.

I pledge allegiance
to the nom noms
and to the mommy
from which they come.
Lots of Yogurt,
Peach Rice Banana,
but no veggies, not ever.

There it is. If you hold your Hand over your Heart, it will make the mommy Smile.

Your devoted toddler anthropologist,

Baby River

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The First Time I Saw Her

(by River's dad)

It had been 36 hours. A long 36 hours -- of stop-and-go labor, a belligerent nurse like a dragon guarding the gates of the maternity ward, and the three of us gathered around my wife (her mother, her priestess, and myself) all urging her to breathe, being kind with her and stern with her at intervals, crying with her, laughing with her, breathing with her.

In those 36 hours, I learned that my wife had more courage than Normandy beach. I learned that she wasn’t just a woman, a lover, or an artist. She was also a goddess. Her screams and her perseverance and the wonder of birth and the wonder of her brought me to tears.

And then – the impossible. The wondrously impossible. A little human being wrapped in fluids and an umbilical cord, a little shriek, and the most amazing hematite eyes in the universe. Eyes that for just a few minutes were looking right out of God’s house and into our world.

Gone are the days of expectant daddies pacing the waiting room. I saw her when she was born. My daughter, my little River. I saw the first moment she looked into her mother’s eyes. I will never forget, not even when my memory goes bad and I go as senile as a rickety old house, because that moment is forever written right into my body and into the way I now see the world. Everything is different now, as different as if something up and changed the color of the sky. Before that moment, I was a young man with a wife and a lot to prove and a world to change. But after I saw my little one’s eyes, I wasn’t that anymore. I was something entirely different. I don’t know what all that something different is yet, but I know that I’m a father and I have a little one to shield and feed and raise and laugh with, and share with her the unexpected joys of a thousand evenings.

She’s a toddler now. I come home from work every evening and swing her into my arms, and I know she’s bigger than she was when I left in the morning. She learns things so fast. She’s running about the house, picking up her cardboard books and reading them, and trying out sounds that are almost Grownup language. I suppose tomorrow she’ll be finding a boy and getting a house of her own. But for now I get to watch her grow and hear her laugh.

Anyway, that’s why I wrote this book with her. It’s written from her perspective, as near as I can see it, and it’s about how toddlers grow and learn as fast as God, and how they teach the Grownups everything about themselves that the Grownups ought to have known or maybe once did and then forgot. And also how everything looks new to them, and how they help us see the whole world again as if for the first time. I hope you’ll read it, and tell River and I what you think.

Toddlers don’t stay toddlers for very long, and we’d best grab the moment and laugh as hard as they do. That's what I'm learning each day, while she learns to run and eat Cheerios and grab her father's books off the shelves.

River’s Dad

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Toddler for President!

My fellow Americans including Grownups,

I Stand before you Tonight to explain why you need to Elect me President of the United States, this coming Election in 2012. It’s super Important that we have an executive leader of great acuity, discernment, and Experience, and I have been Managing Grownups (two of them) for seventeen Months. In Toddler Time, that’s Ages and Ages and almost Forever. So please listen Carefully to my Plans.

I am Prepared and Ready to tackle the Country’s three Greatest Crises:

First, I will defend our Freedom. Freedom is super Important to all Toddlers. We spend So Much Time Stuck in Cribs, and even when we Aren’t, we find ourselves Stuck in Diapers when we would much much Rather be Naked, so we Understand about the Need to Have Our Freedom, and we have an Intuitive Sense of Justice and Liberty for All.

Second, I will Fix our Economy and National Debt. What we need is a National Savings Plan, because right now we Spend everything, and that’s just not Right. I have been Practicing putting some of my Pacifiers Away for a Rainy Day. You can hide them Between Bookshelfs, or Under the Crib, or in the Toybox, and that way you can Hoard some of them for Later, when you Really Need them, when they Really Count. And that’s the Thinking that we have to Apply to the Larger Problem.

Third, we have a Crisis of Civility. There are just Too Many Grouchy Grownups. They’re Everywhere. At first there was just John McCain. But now almost All the Grownups are super Grouchy. And that has to Stop. It’s simply Unacceptable. But I assure you, this issue can be Fixed. I believe I understand what’s at the Root of the Problem. All the Grownups have started Teething, all at once, all together. At the Same time. We need to get them some Tylenol, and some Ice-Cold Chewables, and Wrap them in Cuddly Blankets Very Tightly so they Can’t Hit or Bite Each Other. And that’s we’re going Do.

Very Soon I will be Rolling out my Plans for each Department of the Government. For example, the Department of Agriculture is facing a Global Shortage of Nom Noms, which is Simply Terrifying. Now, we know that Nom Noms come from the Dirt, so we need to get a Lot of Dirt and make a Big Pile and have the Toddler Research Society send all their Best Minds to Play in it and Study it and Learn how to Grow more Nom Noms. More on that Later.

For now I ask you to Simply Keep me in Your Thoughts and Prayers and Consider Voting for Me. And if you’re Curious while you’re Waiting for my Plan to Save the Country to be made available in Full, you can get to Know me Better by reading my Ground-breaking Studies of the Grownup Problem, Dances with Grownups and What Grownups Have on Their Bookshelfs.

Feel free to Ask me Questions. I will do my Best to Answer them in the Order in which they Arrive. I am going to be Very Busy with Getting all the Grownups to Listen to Each Other, but I will take Time to Talk with my Constituents.

With a little guidance and direction from Toddlers, Grownups can Fix Their Country.

Thank you, and Good Night America, and God bless you.


Baby River

Our Toddlers Need Our Stories (A Message from River's Dad)

I will never forget the Cupboard behind my Second Grade teacher’s desk.

This Cupboard was a sacred place, and holy treasures came out of it. Whenever a child did especially well in class, or if a child was upset and needed comfort, Mr. Giono would stand solemnly and slowly – he was the tallest Grownup I had ever seen – and he would turn just as slowly and open the Cupboard. The child’s eyes would get big. Mr. Giono would pause a moment to select a Book, just the right Book, and then he would close the Cupboard and hand it to the child.

“You’ll like this,” he said, his eyes warm as the sun.

That wasn’t all that long ago, but now I am what is called a Grownup, and I find myself the delighted father of a young toddler who loves to page through her cardboard books and then -- furtively -- walk over to daddy’s bookshelves and pluck off one of his volumes to look at. I marvel at the wonder in her eyes as she looks at Books, and I recall my own wonder when I was a child. Yet I read in the news or hear on the radio reports of illiteracy among US children, of students in so many schools failing basic reading comprehension, or -- what’s worst of all -- parents failing simply to read in front of their children and read to their children and share their delight in stories.

Is it possible?

Is it possible that in an age of the Internet and Wikipedia and the e-book, when we are surrounded with easy access to a thousand thousand stories, that we are forgetting to share stories with our children? What dried-up Grownups we’re becoming, if that’s even slightly true!

Please, my fellow Parents and other Grownups, share this thought with every parent you know:

Our Toddlers and our Children need our Stories.

They need them desperately!

Read aloud with your finger pacing beneath the words. Read your own book while they play beside you. Fill their room with colorful books, right alongside the toys. The Toddlers will make a train wreck of the Books -- my little Baby River is evidence of that! But she also loves her Books and her daddy’s, mangled and torn as they are.

Our Toddlers (not just our Grade-Schoolers!) need our Stories.

This is what was in my heart when I took dictation for little River as she wrote her new e-book, What Grownups have on their Bookshelfs. I wanted to share with her in that amazing feeling of uncovered treasure that I experienced when Mr. Giono plucked a book for me out of the Cupboard. Baby River often plucks books off of her father’s shelves, and I tried to imagine what she might think of the Stories in them, what they might teach her about Grownups, and how she might explain them to other Toddlers.

This is what Baby River, our House’s resident Toddler Anthropologist, has to say about the Books Grownups read, and since this is actually her Blog, I had better hush now and let her talk!

My fellow Toddlers, Grownup Stories are so so different from Ours. There aren’t very many Ladybugs or Bedtime Routines or Countings. But they are full of the Things that Hide Deep in Grownups’ Hearts. We all know how the Grownups can be Troubled and can lose their Happy, and that’s why we Toddlers need to Study their Stories and learn how we can Help them. Let me tell you about some of the Stories Grownups tell Each Other, and what we can learn from them about Grownup Culture. Here goes.

River’s new book, What Grownups Have on Their Bookshelfs, expresses the wonder of a Toddler discovering Stories. And to a Toddler, even ponderous Grownups and their old, old Stories can be unexpected and glorious treasures.

River’s e-book is our gift to you, and to all like-minded Parents and Other Grownups, with all the Warmth in our Hearts --

Baby River, and River’s Dad

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

All the Stories are Hiding

Dear Field Diary,

When the daddy or the mommy reads one of my Books, Stories come Out and you can Hear them. That is a Good Thing. But when the parents aren't holding the Books, the Stories all hide Inside. I've gone Looking for them, because they are very Exciting and I want More. I turn the cardboard Pages so so Carefully, but the Stories don't come Out. I can see the Pictures with all their Colors and I can see the Letters, but the Stories still Hide. I tried turning one of the Books upside down but the Stories didn't fall Out. I can see them In There but they are so so Quiet.

Today I ran my Fingers under the Letters like the daddy does when he reads, except his Fingers are so big and mine are Little. I know I am close to discovering the Secret.

Sometimes in the evening before bathtime the daddy sits in his Chair and reads big Pretty books, so I found one of them Today while the daddy wasn't home, only the mommy was here. The book had very tiny Letters and no Colors but I didn't Mind because the pages had Shiny edges and also I know there must be Lots and Lots of Stories in there because the daddy can read it all evening and there are Lots of pages, so so many.

I kept turning the big Pages and Hunting for the Stories but they still Hid from me, no matter how hard I Looked for them. So I thought very hard. And I had an Idea. Going as Fast as I could, I started opening and closing the book, over and over again. I thought if I could just throw open the cover Fast enough, I would catch the Stories by Surprise and they would all come Out where I can Hear them.

I don't Know if the other toddler researchers on assignment in other Grownup Houses know about Stories too, but I hope so. They are full of Happy and I have learned Five Things about them:

1. They are so good at Hiding. Inside the Books.
2. They are made out of Letters.
3. The Grownups have the power to call them Out, because when a Grownup opens a Book, they jump Out very Fast.
4. The more pages there are, the more Stories.
5. There must be Lots and Lots of Stories in the World, because everywhere in the House there are Bookshelfs and all the Bookshelfs are full of Books and all the Books are full of Stories, except the Stories are Hiding. But there might actually be more Stories in the World than Toddlers. Especially if all the other Grownup Houses are full of Books, too. There are Lots.

How do you get the Stories to come Out? The Grownups have the Secret. The daddy gets full of smiles when I am working on it, so he must know I am Close.

The Stories are way too Exciting and full of Happy to be entrusted to Grownups. Grownups are so so Clumsy and they might Break them. It's up to us Toddlers to get all the Books off their Shelfs, open them Up, and let all the Stories Out. But the Stories don't come out by Themselfs. They are so Shy. But the Grownups do it somehow.

I am going to Find out. One way or Another.

Your puzzled toddler anthropologist,

Baby River

Saturday, June 18, 2011

If You Look Super Closely, You Can See the World is Made Out of Music

Dear Field Diary,

The House of the Grownups is filled with Music. There is a Guitar in the Corner. But it's Flat, so I put corn chips inside to help it Sound better. There is also a Snow Globe and a Music Box with pretties inside. And the daddy brought home a keyboard for me. Grownups make Musical Instruments and it's one of the Best Things about them. I mean, there's a lot of Nukky things about Grownups, like the way they Get Tired, and the way they don't feed you what you want to eat, and the way they don't always understand Our Language. But they bring you things to make Music with. And that's one of the Yummy Things.

I can devote Hours to just Listening to the Sounds. The keys like my Fingers and they want me to find the Music, too, so I keep trying until I find it. It's so so fun. The daddy showed me how to do a Scale, but I prefer making my Own Melodies. The Grownups get a Soft Look in their Eyes when they hear. They know and I know that I'm getting Close to finding the Secret of Music too.

When we make Music everything gets better. Even Carrots. They may taste super Nukky, but if you have Music afterward, it doesn't Matter as much.

I know that if I can play beautiful Symphonies on my keyboard, it will help the parents keep their Happy, and then we can Communicate. It's much much Easier to Communicate in Music than in Grownup grunts and whistles and talking-noises. And also it's Easier to hear the Real inside the Music than it is to hear the Real inside the grunts of Grownup Language. I can barely hear the Angel Music anymore because I'm a Toddler now, but I could hear it really Loud before I learned to Crawl. And the Grownups can't hear it At All. It's really Tragic. But they can tell that we hear A Little, I think, and that's why they Listen Extra Close when Toddlers make Music.

Also the daddy plays the keys with me, and I can see his Happy in his Face, so I know we're Communicating. Here's what I'm going do. I'm going to make Music each day before Bed until my Fingers know all the Melodies, and then I am going to play All the Music in the World for the daddy and the mommy until they dance and never Stop.

Rule # 11 of Grownup Culture:

Sometimes if you just Can't Get Through
to the Grownups, you just need to Sing to them.
Or go to the Keys.

Your melodic toddler anthropologist,

Baby River