People have spent lots of time daydreaming about which historical person they’d like to clone or somehow resurrect and bring to the present day. Some answer quite nobly: Jesus, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa. Others answer with angst: Hitler/Stalin/Bin Laden, so that the person doing the resurrecting could punch them in the nose or worse. I’d never really had a good candidate. I thought that bringing back someone like Cleopatra or Alexander the Great might be academically interesting – just to see what they looked like and how clever they really were. I now have a different answer, and it’s a combination of angst and nobility: Dr. Seuss.
I’d get the angsty bit out of the way first. Old Seuss-y boy would be made to publicly atone to us all for Fox in Socks. Then he would have to spend some serious time apologizing to dads everywhere for Hop on Pop, visiting them when hospitalized with broken ribs when necessary. He could bring carnations for the dads who are currently urinating blood.
Then, I would harness him for the forces of good. You see, I’ve become acutely aware at how suggestible kids are. I’ve always worried more about this from a product standpoint. I haven’t wanted Stella to be a Disney princess acolyte or start demanding Barbies (especially the goofy ones with the pooping dogs). I had avoided it quite well. Sure, there was that time Stella saw the YouTube video for Yo Gabba Gabba shoes and subsequently began requesting them. But otherwise, she’s never really paid attention to advertising. It also helps that in the land of the DVR’s, you really can live your life without seeing commercials.
But it goes so much deeper than that.
Now if she sees something on TV, an iPad app, or in a book, it affects her. Dr. Seuss seems particularly potent. She reenacts everything. Green Eggs and Ham will result in a demand for eggs. Fox in Socks (we broke down and bought the app for that because holy cow have you ever tried reading that?!) results in urgent pleas for noodles, since that’s what the noodle eating poodles are eating of course. Hop On Pop will send her leaping onto her father or requesting bananas and “snack!” Then we have to throw down in order to define snack, particularly if I remind her she doesn’t sausages. If it’s the Cat in the Hat we’re stuck on, we have to find objects that match what the Cat has sent flying such as brushes or combs. Good thing we don’t have a kite or a fish in the house.
I think we can all agree that part of what made Dr. Seuss kick butt was his sweetness and silliness. And I’m the first to agree that we should let kids be kids – not everything has to be a lesson. But man, if only the Doctor had used his power for good: potty training (There’s a Man on the Can or the Road to the Commode), manners (Horton Hears a Whom), inside voice usage (Mommy’s Steaming When You’re Screaming), cleanliness (Oh! The Wonderful Joys of Picking Up Toys!), and overall big kid behavior (Pick a Rose, Not Your Nose, There’s a Wocket in Your Pocket But Keep Your Hands Out of Your Butt).
In the meantime, I’m on high alert. We certainly won’t be reading Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, No David!, or A Bad Case of the Stripes anytime soon.