The voice inside of you…

I have always been a fan of Shel Silverstein.

Little did I know as a kid that Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout was a hoarder, but somehow she scared me enough to take the garbage out. Even when taking the garbage out at our house meant opening up a peach colored wooden long trunk outside our maintenance shed that sometimes was home to raccoons. If you were not careful when you took the garbage out and you opened the lid you would see two eyes and grey, black, and white fur looking back at you. Who knew taking the garbage out was such a scary thing.

So when I was reminded the other day of the poem: “The Voice” by Shel Silverstein it brought back memories:

The Voice

There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you–just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.

I only wish it was more popular to little children (girls especially). We all should teach kids early on how to listen to their own voice, so it does not take them so long to find it. It took me until I was in my early twenties in college. If I had parents, teachers, and family find unique ways to teach me that no one can decide what is right for me, I might have found that strong voice earlier.

Just as it might be hard for adults to continue to find their voice, it can be even harder for kids (but it does not have to be). We all need to listen more. We need to be quiet more. The voice inside you is there.

No fairy tales for me!

I have always been a fan of children’s books that accurately portray women and girls. Of course I grew up with Disney, Barbie, and all other crap that told me to look at my body, that boys were smarter and stronger, and that women were not equal. As a kid, I really had no ideal role models about women. At least not until college. I had a mini childhood retroactive while in college during a children’s literature course and a women’s writing course where I had the opportunity to look at what messages we are sending children from an early age.

When Chris met me I already had a small collection of children’s books (think quick picture books, not children’s novels). Most of my accrued stack of books were more specific to a child feeling loved and good about themselves. Hmm, maybe a trend that I did not feel as a kid. However, one of my all time favorites was “The Paper Bag Princess” where a princess is to marry the prince when a dragon attacks the castle and kidnaps the prince. The princess finds the dragon, is smarter than he is (ah yes a book that shows little girls and boys that girls can be badasses). Yes, she rescues the prince. I mean, why not? Think about how many books and Disney movies have a princess or some “beautiful” distraught girl who is saved or rescued by their dashing prince (or maybe a beast). Beauty & the Beast, Cinderella, Snow White, The Little Mermaid, oh I could go on, but you all know how the story goes.

When I read this New York Times article “Turn Your Princess Obsessed Toddler Into a Feminist in Eight Easy Steps” a huge smile appeared on my face. I will copy the first two steps to give you a gist of why you should take a moment to read it:

“1. Read the Brothers Grimm version of Snow White in which Snow White is asked to clean, cook, make beds, wash and sew for the dwarfs in exchange for shelter from the evil queen. Ask your toddler to imagine what might have been different if the dwarfs had been female instead of male, and instead of a tiny cottage in the Wood, if Snow White had stumbled upon Wellesley College.

2. Wonder aloud, what with Cinderella’s history as a cleaner, if she and Prince Charming are likely to share the division of labor in their home. Remark that, if the immaculate state of his white gloves is anything to go by, it’s difficult to imagine that he ever takes out the garbage.”

Somehow I am in a marriage where Chris’ white gloves would never be clean and the division of labor ebbs and flows, and if anything it flows fuller to his plate, depending on what is happening in our life. As my tiny baby niece grows up I hope she is surrounded by positive influences that allow her to decide that her brain and creativity are just as important as the boys around her, that she is not here to serve a man, and that her voice matters. I know whenever we have kid(s) of our own, I will be a strong proponent to let them play out whatever gender roles they decide are comfortable to them while also encouraging respect and understanding for the other gender.

“Love You Forever”

I have spent a good part of my life taking care of other people, family members, and probably my favorite of all children. My favorite age is newborn, that are so cuddly, sleep so easily in your arms, and smell so good. (Well most of the time). However, I love the conversation and exploration that happens when you interact with toddlers and onward. The questions at times can get under your skin, and other days they say things that are so completely unexpected that they make you laugh so much you cry. Other times the words that come out of their mouths bring other sorts of tears.

Yesterday a Facebook friend shared this article “The Story Behind ‘Love You Forever’ Is Probably Not What You Thought.” Love You Forever is a children’s book written by Robert Munsch. Now let me tell you, over my 10 + years of marriage I have wanted to purchase baby items, and Chris has somehow won and halted this urge, which I understand. However, I started a bit of a collection of my favorite children’s books well before I met Chris. One on the bookshelf is, you guessed it: Love You Forever. Maybe it is the nostalgia of sometimes feeling like an orphan, or remembering childhood memories with my parents, but this book always brought tears to my eyes as I read it to wee little ones while babysitting, or while working at a day care center in college.

The article shares the true story about the background of this children’s book. You’ll want to read the article and watch the video, but know that it is a teary affair. I cried while reading this article based on not having my parents here to tell me they love me, and now to know that the words in the book actually speak to babies lost, makes it that much deeper. The song the mom sings in the book is:

“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”

For those of you that have lost babies, born or unborn, or even your grown babies, this book is for you. I even think it is for those that have lost their moms or dads, as a reminder that they are loved. You are loved.

Children’s Book Week

Happy Monday! I had a good full weekend, with sunshine and warmth. It is supposed to be 79 degrees in Portland today. I think it will be the warmest day we have had since last summer! The forecast this week shows sun everyday this week, an exciting thing to look forward to when you live in rainy Portland!

So, this week is Children’s Book Week. Yes, I am addicted to reading and books. Books have changed my life. I was thinking back to the books I read as a child. I can remember sitting on the couch and reading aloud to my dad. Often our dog, Ginger, would lay on the couch with us.

tami, dad, and ginger reading together

(Apologies for the faded photo, it is what my physical copy looks like too).

The books I can remember reading aloud were Amelia Bedelia, most Beverly Cleary books, CorduroyAlexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Clifford, Where the Wild Things Are, Curious George, and many more. Later I would enjoy Encyclopedia BrownThe Babysitter’s Club, and Nancy Drew, among others.

Later in high school and college when I would babysit and work in a day care center, my favorite books to read to children were: Guess How Much I Love You, Love you Forever, You’re Just What I Need, The Paper Bag Princess, and one of my childhood favorites, The Poky Little Puppy.

What were your favorite childhood books?

In honor of children’s book week, give or send a child you know your favorite children’s book.

Have a great week!