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

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How Grownups are Super Tricky

Dear Field Diary,

River's Rule of Grownup Culture # 14:

Grownups trick each other
and they will trick Toddlers, too.
They make you think you're going to get one thing,
and then give you Something Else
that's Totally Different.
They're Super Tricky.

Like Today. One minute the daddy was feeding me Yogurt, and the next, he was spooning Sweet Potatoes into my mouth. It was Different, and that's Just Not Right. I feel so so Tricked. And it gets Worse. I've been Comparing Notes with the Other Toddlers on Sundays while the daddy does God Things, and it turns out that Grownups do this All the Time.

They even do it to Each Other.

Like when one of them says I'm going to give you a Car and he gives you instead a Metal Can with no Engine. Or when one says I'm going to give you a Kiss and then instead he takes your Happy away. Or when one says I'm going to give you a House but gives you Debt instead. I don't understand why Grownups do this even though I'm Learning as Fast as I can about their primitive and unusual Culture. I think it's deserving of more Study, because Sweet Potatoes don't taste Anything like Yogurt. Not at all. And if we're going to solve the Grownup Problem we have to pull together all of our Toddler Resources and figure this one out.

Your inquisitive toddler anthropologist,

Baby River

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Lady Gaga Understands Us Toddlers

Dear Field Diary,

The Grownups have been playing Music Videos for me from "Glee," and I love the Lady Gaga one Best. It's called "Born This Way." You can Dance to it and it Gets Inside Your Tummy and makes you want to Jump Up and Down for Hours. Sometimes the mommy plays it for me Over and Over. I don't know what the words are About, because they are in the Grownup Language and they sing them So Fast that I can't Catch Them yet, but I think it's about How Life is Wonderful and how it feels to be Bouncy and how we All Want to Learn Everything and find our Happy. She sums up the Spirit of Toddler Culture.

Rule of Grownup Culture # 3:

Grownups make Lots of Music so they can be More Like Us.

Your bouncy toddler anthropologist,

Baby River

How Grownups Get Close to God

My fellow Toddlers,

I've also made Other Discoveries and have been Late in making an Official Report about them because of my Recent Mopeyness. Here they Are:

First, we all Know that to Study Grownup Culture you have to wear a Diaper (I think the Grownups wear Theirs Under Their Clothes), but we also Know that the Diapers are Irritating and we would all Much Rather Be Naked. Today I Discovered that you can actually Take Off the Diaper. There are little Fasteners on the sides. I'm Serious. Not only that, but the Grownups will look Shocked and Giggle or Laugh, so it must be All Right. This is an Important Discovery and we need to Let all Toddlers Know as soon as Possible.

Second, the Grownups spend Lots and Lots of Time Fixing Things. Sometimes they Sing or Hum while they do, and they use special, ritual Metal Objects that you never see Any Other Time. I think it's Part of Their Religion.

Rule of Grownup Culture # 16:

Grownups Fix Broken Things when they want to Get Closer to God.

Anyway, what that Means is if your Snow Globe stops Making Music or if your baby toys run out of Batteries, you can take them to a Grownup and make a Cute Face and Have Them Fixed. And they Enjoy it. They bring the things Back and Watch while you play with them. This is an Important Discovery that we need to let the other Toddlers know, too.

Third, There Are Things in the World Called Swings. You can find them in the Big Green Places, and you can meet other Toddlers and Babies there, and share News of the World and talk about the Grownups, and the Grownups won't even Suspect. Also the Swings make you Lightheaded like the Whole World is Beautiful and Swinging Around with You. It's worth going just for That.

That's all for Tonight, because I need to go have more Yogurt and hug my Seahorse. Please share this Official Report with As Many Toddlers as Possible.

Your dutiful toddler anthropologist,

Baby River

The Grownups Give You Yogurt

My fellow Toddlers,

I need to Inform you of an Amazing and Significant Discovery. It's called Yogurt. It's squishy and it Trickles Down Your Chin and Chest and it is super nommy. The Grownups Make it, or Find it, or something. I'm not sure Where It Comes From, but the Grownups have it. I suggest we petition the Toddler Research Society to Dispatch Sixty or Seventy Toddler Researchers to Investigate Further at the Earliest Opportunity. We must learn where the Yogurt comes from. It's imperative.

The Yogurt put so much Happy inside me that I beat my chest with the palms of Both My Hands. Although the Grownup Language Consists of Grunts and Funny Singing Noises, they do Respond to Sign Language with a Little Training.

Your happy toddler anthropologist,

Baby River

Sometimes the Grownups Need a Toddler to Rescue Them

Dear Field Diary,

A few days ago I was filled with Upset and the world was Overflowing with Troubles. Then I Realized it's not the Grownups' Fault; they just Don't Know Any Better. That's why we Toddlers have to Look After Them. Without us, they'd be totally Helpless.

For Example.

Today I had to Sort the mommy's Cosmetics. None of them were Matched by Color and only Some of Them by Shape. It was a Total Mess. Fortunately my Innate Sense of Organization came to the Rescue. Then I Organized the mommy's Shoes, because they were hanging in a plastic thing on the closet Door and that makes No Sense at all, because you can't put Shoes on unless they're on the floor. Now they are in a neat pile by the Bed so the mommy can wear them when she wakes up in the Morning.

The parents must have been so so Happy after I brought Peace to the House, because they brought me my Little Music Box and Wound it Up. Which is called Bartering. I learned About it. When you do a Service of Incredible Intelligence and Sacrifice for the Grownups, they Give you Something. Like a Music Box. Or Nom Noms. Only sometimes they Don't.

Also I Opened the Music Box and Discovered the mommy had put Pretties inside. There was a Bracelet, and a Locket, and a Heart Locket, and a Rosary. The Chain on the Locket feels so so good when I draw it back and forth across my Gums, because they are Sore from Teething.

In fact I think I know why the Grownups don't Always Have Giggles. It's because they are Teething All the Time.

I think we should try a new Solution to the Grownup Problem. We should find Heart Lockets with little Chains for all the Grownups, so they can Chew on them All the Time and feel much much Better and be More Full of Giggles and Get Their Happy Back.

I really like the Pretties in the Music Box, and I think the mommy and the daddy try so so hard to have Fairness in their Hearts and to keep their Happy. In Fact I'm becoming so so Attached to them. It worries me sometimes because I might be Losing My Objectivity, and Blending In too much. Sometimes when we run around the house Playing and Giggling I feel so so Happy and Dizzy and full of Warm Things Deep Down Inside, and then when I Catch My Breath I almost feel like I'm becoming One of Them. I can't tell the Toddler Research Society that, but I am very Fond of the parents and I am beginning to Understand them Sometimes A Little. They are the way they are because their Houses are So Messy and All Their Colors are Mixed Up, and also they are So Tall and when they Fall Down they Get Hurted so so Much. It's not their Fault. They just need Toddlers with Wisdom and Discernment to Look After Them and help them Find Their Happy and Get Organized.

I don't think that's what the Toddler Research Society wants to Hear, but that doesn't make it not True.

I am going to go Chase the Kitties for a while, and Think Deep about This. The Grownups are Sometimes Full of Snuggles and today has been One of Those Times. I really Like Them. A Lot. I'm going to try to Help Them Out more.

Your wise toddler anthropologist,

Baby River

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Mommy Got Stuck with Needles

Dear Field Diary,

Today was the Worst Day Ever.

So the mommy was feeling So Sicked and the daddy and I took her to see the Doctor. And they stuck Needles in the mommy and made her Bleed. It was really really Scary, because Red Stuff came out. I cried so loud and the mommy said it was okay but I could tell her Happy was still Gone, so I Screamed and Screamed and Screamed.

Then they made the mommy Better but everything was still full of Suffering because there was no Crib and no Pillows. Sometimes the Grownups are barbarians. How could the Doctor's be a place to make people Better if there is no Crib there? Sleep takes away all the Nukkiness. Everyone knows that.

Rule of Grownup Culture # 4:

Grownups would Rather Get Stuck with Needles
Than Sleep.

How weird is that?

Just when I think I'm beginning to Blend In and understand the Grownups, they do Something that Makes No Sense. I don't understand how their Culture has survived this long.

I must have Screamed for my Crib for Hours and Hours. It felt like it. And still the Grownups didn't bring a Crib. Now we're Home and there's a Crib again, and I almost want to file a full report to the Toddler Research Society about how mean Grownups are and how they make No Sense and how they don't even understand enough of my Language to know I Need My Crib, and how sometimes life is nothing but pain and suffering and no nom noms. Worst Day Ever. I'm not going to file the report because my Crib is here and I'm going to go Sleep now, but I am Super Grouchy and am so so glad that I'm a Toddler and not a Grownup.

Maybe they'll make more Sense in the morning. Sleep helps everything Make Sense. Every Toddler knows how Important it is to Make Sense. This is a very Big and very Confusing World, and if you don't have a Crib and you get Stuck with Needles, and someone is Screaming for her Crib and you don't Help Out, then things make Even Less Sense. I am just so glad the poor Grownups have us Toddlers to let them know when they stop Making Sense, or they'd be totally hopeless.

Sometimes I wonder if the Toddler Research Society knew what it was Doing when it Assigned me to the Project. Some days I feel so out of my Depth in this strange culture. Still, I am going to Stick With It and figure the Grownups out no matter what it takes. But I am still Super Grouchy.

Your brave toddler anthropologist,

Baby River

The Mommy is Sick

Dear Field Diary,

The mommy is Sicked. She has the shakes and she is all Shivery, and I'm super worried for her because she looks like her Happy is Gone. So I have been trying to Help, using everything I've Learned about the Grownups and their Culture. I thought she might need Nom Noms so I brought her a Potato Chip, but she looked Sad and didn't want it. Then I thought she needed a Comfort Device, so I offered her my pacifier. She had a Smile and Tears but it didn't help. Then I waved my Hands in the air and said "Yay" but the mommy didn't Cheer Up.

Nothing Worked. At all.

Then I Realized.

Sometimes, no matter how different they Look and how Silly they act, the Grownups are Just Like Us. I climbed onto the couch where the mommy was lying down, and I Snuggled into her Side and kept her Company all morning.

River's Next Rule:

When Grownups feel Sicked,
sometimes you just have to Cuddle them

I have been in the field for sixteen months and sometimes it feels like there is So Much still to find out, but other times, I Realize just How Much I have already Learned about Grownup Culture.

Your cuddly toddler anthropologist,

Baby River

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bringing the Happy Back

Attention Toddlers Everywhere,

I know how we can Bring the Happy Back for the Grownups. Swimming Pools make them Happy. When you Splash them, you get Giggles. And they get Giggles. It's so so funny. We can cheer up All the Grownups and bring World Peace if we just put Swimming Pools Everywhere. I'm not sure How, but the Toddler Research Society needs to get on it. There are lots and lots and lots of grouchy Grownups and we need to Take Action With Expediency.

In the Meantime, all of us Toddlers who are sane and rational need to help the poor Grownups by making as many Swimming Pools as we can. We need to find Wet Things like kitty water, olive oil, and milk, and dump them on the floor and fill up one room in each house with a Swimming Pool. That can be an Interim Solution.

Also I have made a Discovery. The daddy says They Are Called Books. The pages feel nice against my Fingers and there are lots and lots of Letters in them and Pictures. Also the pages taste Super Nommy and the covers of the Books are chewable. I am going to Investigate Further and report more soon.

For now, Rule of Grownup Culture # 8:

If you want the Grownups to Giggle, you Has to Splash Them.

Your intrepid toddler anthropologist,

Baby River

Friday, June 3, 2011

Yay! The Grownups are Learning my Language

Today Everything is Happy Happy. The Grownups are finally Learning my Language. For Example. I waved my Hands in the air and said "Yaaaaay" and they Waved Back and Said it Too. The House is So Full of Happy. I said Yay Eighteen times today. Which is A Lot.

I also Pursued the Loud Noise Thing that the Grownups use to make the floor Pretty, and I danced around it and Giggled. I got the Grownups to imitate all Kinds of Sounds I made. They are Fast Learners. I would never have expected it, but they Are.

The mommy has a Guitar and I played Music on it, and that was good Stress Relief after a long day of Toddler Anthropology and Training the Grownups to Speak in ways Toddlers can Understand.

The House and the Crib and the Toys are all Full of Happy.

Also the daddy brought crayons that you can use to Make Pictures on Glass, and the mommy and I drew Mountains on the Windows. Now the Glass is happy too. I think I am learning So So Much about Grownup culture from their Art on the Windows.

Now it is So So Late and I am going to go hug my Seahorse.

Your happy toddler anthropologist,

Baby River