Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Poetry Month & Dr. Seuss

In this house, Dr. Seuss is the main man when it comes to reading.  April is National Poetry Month, and while I'm not entirely sure that what I've chosen for our poetry month selection is 'exactly' poetry, it fits the bill in a few ways.  I think Dr. Seuss was a very clever guy.  He worked major life lessons into clever prose that is catchy and kids can recite tons.  Heck, I can too.  Think about "Green Eggs and Ham"- a tome on trying things without fear or hesitation or just being willing to try things, in general.  When my kiddos turn up their nose at a new food before tasting it, I always say "Try it, try it! You may see!"

To me, "Horton Hears A Who" is a genius lesson on belief in yourself and on people needing to open their eyes and hearts to things that might be new or scary to them. "The Butter Battle Book" cleverly teaches about picking and choosing your battles in life, deciding what is worth exhaustive effort or acceptance.  I can quote "The ABC Book" from start to finish, as can my daughter.  My son loves the illustrations, the cadence of the rhymes, and claps wildly when I pull out a Dr. Seuss book to read.  It's a win-win situation, all around.

Never mind that there are cool Dr. Seuss movies, shows, and even a fun website for your kiddos!  I credit reading my kids Dr. Seuss diligently with them picking up rhyming, reading, tolerance, and acceptance, along with so many other things.  My favorite book is "Oh The Places You'll Go!" by Dr. Seuss.  It's probably in my top 3 books ever, not just for kids.  It's amazing that he wrote it shortly before he passed away and to be perfectly honest, remembering parts of that book have gotten me through very hard times in my life.

I'm going to open up and give a confession to you.  When I was pregnant with Owen, and contemplating making my dream of becoming a full time writer a reality, I was filled with more doubt than you could imagine.  I spent more than a few times in tears over whether I could do it or not, until one night that I picked this book up to read to Eva before bedtime.  When I kissed her good night, I had my answer.  It was time to 'move my mountain'.

So, without further ado, with many humble thanks to Dr. Seuss & an ode to Poetry Month, I present "Oh, the Places You'll Go!"

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.

And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town. It’s opener there in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Thank you to Dr. Seuss, and thank you, our fantastic readers!

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