Brontë seriously hates Dr. Seuss. I didn’t actually realize this was possible.
Partly because storytime is Brontë’s favorite daily ritual. She lights up when it’s time to read before bed, grabbing her Minnie Mouse blanket and scrambling under the covers in happy anticipation. She stares at each and every page with unbroken attention until I announce “the end,” and then usually wants to discuss any illustrations on the back cover. In fact, if she’s being ornery before bed, usually the mere threat of going to sleep “without a story” is enough to instantly snap her back into line.
Until I grabbed some Seussian fare, the only book she hadn’t liked was That’s Not My Bunny, and only because she considered it hateful propaganda. In That’s Not My Bunny, each page has a different illustration of a bunny with a tactile element. For example, one page features a bunny with bumpy paws and reads, ‘That’s not my bunny, his paws are too rough.”
Brontë, however, absolutely adores bunny rabbits and would indignantly scream, “That IS my bunny!” after every page until she eventually had to grab the book and throw it across the room to stop all the lies.
But I never expected her reject one of the gods of children’s literature. Dr. Seuss is classic. Everyone loves Dr. Seuss. He even has his own award recognizing the most distinguished children’s authors in English literature. When I was pregnant and envisioning all the adorable scenes I would have with my future child, one of them was reading her stuff like Green Eggs and Ham and watching her giggle in delight.
That is not what happened.
I am Sam. Sam I am. (Brontë stares, bewildered, wondering where this is going.)
That Sam-I-am! That Sam I am! I do not like that Sam-I-am! (Brontë’s brows furrow in clear irritation.)
Do you like Green Eggs and ham? I do not like them, Sam-I-am. I do not like Green Eggs and Ham…
“STOP!” Brontë yells.
“Hold on, just stick with it,” I reassure her as she squeezes her Minnie blanket tighter and suspiciously looks at the book. I resume…
Would you like them, Here or There? I would not like them, Here or There. I would not like them Anywhere. I do not like Green Eggs and Ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-am.”
“STOP IT! I NO LIKE IT!” Brontë shouts, making her eyebrows into an angry-V. “Just listen,” I tell her, certain she will get into it as soon as we talk about the mouse…
Would you like them in a house? Would you like them with a mouse?”
“STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT STOP PLEASE STOP!” she screams while grabbing the book and chucking it across the room. She sighs deeply, as though she can finally breathe again.
Hmm, I guess she really means it. Was it the idea of green ham? That is kind of gross, and I can understand a toddler being sensitive to the subject matter. We keep pressuring her to try foods she doesn’t like, and maybe she just didn’t want to see that drama play out once more while she’s trying to relax before bed.
Then again, maybe she’s just in a bad mood tonight. You never know with toddlers… sometimes they just like to reject stuff. It makes them feel like they have some control over the universe.
Wondering if that was the case, I let it go for the night then came back to the table with Horton Hears a Who the following evening:
On the 15th of May, in the jungle of Nool, in the heat of the day, in the cool of the pool…
“NONONONONONONONONONO!” Brontë screamed, looking completely betrayed.
“You don’t like the book?”
“I NO LIKE IT!”
Alrighty then. I selected a different book about the adventures of a lost cat and she was happy. She just hates Dr. Seuss.
It’s the incessant rhyming. I swear I saw her flinch every time another word rhymed.
And she has a point. Just imagine you had a coworker that talked the way Dr. Seuss writes… Three or four rhymes would grate your nerves, and after a few minutes, you’d want to punch them in the face (“I don’t like coffee, Chuck-I-am. Not in the office, not in the can. I do not like it with sugar or spice, I do not like it neither hot nor iced.” *CRACK!*)
Dr. Seuss will never sound the same.