Tag Archive | Bill Martin Jr.

And that’s when I first saw the bear


Not literally, just literarily.  Here’s the song reference.  It’s dreadfully inappropriate (and really more of a spoken word piece than a song), but it’s the song that popped into my head as the “blog moment” happened.

We had a mellow sort of rainy day around here; I baked bread, read stories, slogged through five loads of tiny laundry, tried to create a little order in the chaosium of our kitchen, enforced naptime, that kind of thing.  The morning’s big bright spot was the discovery of Bugaboo’s toy computer, which had been missing and missed for almost eighteen months.  Somehow, it turned up under my nightstand.  She and Beanie celebrated by playing games on their respective “computers” for about an hour until Mr. Man and Baby Guy awoke, at which time there were waffles all around, followed by paint for the ladies, a dry erase marker book for Mr. Man, and lots of blocks for both boys while the girls got up to mischief with their fairies in their room.

Bugaboo didn’t nap with Beanie and the boys, but she was very good about observing quiet time.  When she tiptoed from the girls’ room, I told her since she was doing such a good job with her listening, she could have a special craft project all to herself.  Quickly gathering some toilet paper roll cores, fuzzy yarn, scrap paper and glue, I showed her how to make a dog with the assembled supplies.  She was delighted, and set about creating a veritable kennel of cardboard canines.  When Beanie arrived just as the last roll core had been covered in fuzzy yarn, she was a little distraught, so I grabbed our last Zoo Pals cup, squirted glue around the rim, and told her she could make the snake into a wild thing — then quickly explained to Bugaboo that since she’d had a craft all to herself, she needed to let Beanie have her own craft, too.  There are pictures in the gallery.  Disaster was thereby averted, and Bugaboo wandered off to see if Smudgie wanted to be brushed while Beanie cheerfully adorned her cup with strands of yarn.

After naps, dinner, dessert, and a very enthusiastic welcome for Daddy, we tried to settle the tribe in for some family story time.  Mr. Man wanted some Daddy time to himself, however, and the girls had to be sent off to their room to clean up the results of their attempt to create a snowstorm in their room with a very large canister of baby powder (I opted NOT to photograph that).  Baby Guy, finding himself minus both his big brother and Daddy, became distressed, wailing and crying.  Milk didn’t help, hugs didn’t help, singing didn’t help, so I opted for the last resort that, in my five years of motherhood, has failed but rarely.  I grabbed the nearest board book, nestled him snugly into my lap, and started to read.

Baby Guy saw the picture of the bear and immediately quieted.  I read that book, which has been a favorite of each of our little blessings, at least three times in a row, with our small, chubby son cuddled against my chest, his eager fingers reaching out to touch each of the animals.  When we finished our little story interlude, he wriggled off my lap, pulled himself up using the edge of the couch, and reached for what appears to be his new favorite tale.  I handed it to him, and he plopped down on his plump rump, staring at the book with a cheery little smile.  As he waved his treasure in the air, he burbled, “Bow bay!  Bow Bay!  Bow Bay!”

I suspect the day is not far off when, if Baby Guy is bored, sad, or in need of a Mommy moment, he’ll adopt his siblings’ habit of meandering around to all the bookshelves until he finds something he’d like to read, then climbing into my lap for a snuggle and a story.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for my parents, who taught me to read and to appreciate books before I could talk; thank You for the grace to recognize their wisdom and pass that teaching along to Your blessings.  Thank You for the means to build Your blessings a library that enlightens and entertains them, and for strong eyes to read to them.  Thank You for Your early disciples who compiled Your love letters to us into a book, for those who preserved those early manuscripts, for those have labored under Your guidance to translate them into modern languages, for those who have made faithful renderings of Your parables and the stories from Your life and illustrated them in a way that makes them beautiful to children.  Thank You for brown bears, yellow ducks, and green frogs, and for giving us enough imagination to find the fun in the thought of blue horses and purple cats.  Thank You for little blessings whose favorite way to spend time together is snuggled up around me with a pile of books, and for the stories they invent on their own.  Please help me teach them that if they choose their books well, they will always have a way to find entertainment, information, or wisdom — and please help me teach them the difference between the three.

Not quite right


One topic of conversation that never fails to generate lots of laughter at our parish moms’ group is the hilarity that often accompanies growing vocabularies. Kids really do say the funniest things, and the reason they are funny is because the children uttering the slightly askew words or phrases are completely innocent of the meanings of their mispronunciations.  Heaven knows our tribe has had, and continues to have, its share of anguished English, with occasionally uproarious results.  For example, all of our children have had a dreadful time properly pronouncing the word, “sit,” which is unfortunate because that’s quite the oft-spoken word around here.  So far, Bugaboo, Beanie, and Baby Guy have all managed to holler, “shit, shit SHIT,” at a sibling who refused to remain seated in a chair or shopping cart.  It is, I believe, a law of nature that small children will only do this when there is a large crowd of people present, each member of which is ready to extend a glower at the (apparently) cursing child.

Mr. Man’s current bon mot is “snake” for steak, while one of his buddies has finally mastered the pronunciation of “truck.”  Bugaboo, who has always loved to sing, used to proudly belt out “Jesus Wants Me for a Zombie” to any audience, and Beanie once reduced the entire checkout section at Wegmans to helpless laughter by pointing to those helium-filled objects that are the objects of most small children’s desire and loudly asking, “Mommy, wan’ some big boobs pease?”  I will never forget the sweet, octogenarian lady who turned to my little girl with a merry smile and said, “Sweetie, so do I.”  Then there was Bugaboo, who strikes up conversations with anyone who stops to say hello when we go shopping, responding to the question of an elderly gentleman who inquired of her what she was helping Mommy find at the big store one day with, “My Daddy needs some new panties.  He uses the potty, you know.”

Then there was the beat-all that emanate from Beanie.  My stock answer to the “I wants” used to be, “Hey, Mommy wants a Maserati, but that’s not happening either.”  One day, Beanie was striking out on all fronts with her “I wants,” and when I employed my standard reply, she burst into tears, wailing,  “I don’ WANNA mommysnotty!”  It took me almost ten minutes to compose myself enough to call my husband to relay that one.

Mr. Man is a huge fan of all the Bill Martin, Jr. books.  The example above is the only one that still has a photographable cover.  After a dinner that involved four pasta-coated faces, followed by a rowdy hour in the yard, Mr. Man wandered upstairs, grabbed a stack of books, and clambered into my lap for some storytime.  I absolutely love that he calls Baby Guy over to join him when he decides it’s time to read.  At any rate, we read through several of his favorite board books; when we had finished his initial selections, Mr. Man meandered back to the bookshelf to choose a couple more, since he didn’t have to take turns with his sisters and Baby Guy hasn’t yet figured out how to crawl while carrying a book.  Seizing his favorite (and the best-known, I suspect) Bill Martin title, he ran back to me, waving his trophy in the air and merrily shouting, “BOOM CHICKA WOW WOW BOOM CHICKA WOW WOW!”

I couldn’t help it.  I laughed so hard tears squirted out of my eyes.  When I recovered myself, two little boys were sitting in front of me, staring at me with puzzled smiles on their faces.  Gathering both boys and the book into my lap, I started up a rhythmic chant of “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” until Mr. Man was saying it correctly and clapping his hands to the beat — which had the bonus effect of getting him to clap his hands every time the phrase “chicka chicka boom boom” came up in the book as we read.

It occurs to me that moments like those are the ones the Lord sends to remind us that teaching and learning are both pretty enjoyable if I have the right attitude, and that the proper response to making and correcting errors is taking the moment to recognize the humor in our mistakes.

Incidentally, I’d love to read any stories of mangled language any of you care to share.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for laughter, for Your blessings who are learning to speak, and for the abundance of ways You have provided for them to learn new words through books, music, and playing with friends.  Remind me to always keep a light heart when correcting them for even serious errors, and to teach them to enjoy the moment of levity when they realize a mistake.  Please, Lord, teach me to enjoy that same brief laugh when I err, as I often do, and to make my corrections with good humor and gratitude for the opportunity to fix my errors, so Your blessings will see that, while we’d rather not make mistakes, we will because we are not You, and You will grant us to wisdom to laugh at our own folly if we ask it of You.