Wednesday, March 31, 2010

You're going on a BEAR hunt? Dude. What's up with that?

I love reading to my kids.

I savor it more as my children get older. When they were toddlers, I remember the many times that their chubby little hands clutched a board book as they waddled over to me, popped down in my lap and said, "Read, mama!"

And of course, I would happily oblige.

Kids have their favorite books, and sometimes I would find myself being requested to read the same book over and over. And then over again. Until I would want to scream.

Fun fact about me: I know the book, "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" (by Bill Martin, Jr.) completely and totally by heart. Every word is etched in my memory, and I can't imagine a day that the words will leave my overcrowded brain. But someday the words will leave because they are no longer needed or requested by a small child, and that makes me sad.

The more birthdays that my children see, the less they want me to read to them. They are too busy reading like "big kids" do, all on their own. I am proud that they read so well and I am proud that they devour chapter books such as, "Harry Potter", "Diary of a Wimpy Kid", and "Magic Tree House", among others. However, if there ever comes a time that ANY of them, especially my older, more independent children, asks me to read to them, I drop whatever I am doing and read.

That's how much I've learned to appreciate it and savor it. The moments are fewer and farther between.

To all the newer parents that are SICK of reading the same book over and over again to their toddler, I say to you, ENJOY it, because all too soon they will say to you, "I'm good mom. I'm just going to read here on my own."

My 3-year old daughter is still at the age that she loves to be read to, and Bill or I read to her nightly. My youngest son, at the ripe old age of 5, loves to read to us now, with our help on the really big words like, "fantastic" or "horrible" of course.

But as I was reading my daughter one of our family's favorite books the other day, I was struck by an interesting thought, which I'll get to in a moment.

The book we were reading is, "We're Going on a Bear Hunt", retold by Michael Rosen, and it features adorable pictures illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. This book is a classic, and our copy has been read so many times that the cover is missing, and the spine is broken. I believe that I have read it approximately 1,472 times. Not that I'm exaggerating or anything.

For realsies.

Anyway, as I was reading it to my little girl the other day, something struck me.

Dude. The parents in this book are MEAN. And slightly stupid. And probably not mentally fit for the job. Who thinks that it would be fantastically fun to hunt for bears with their kids? Answer: Not sane people.

I don't know why I never thought about it much the other 1,471 times that I have read this book, but let's consider the title. It's called, "We're Going on a Bear Hunt".  As in, they're taking their sweet, unsuspecting children on a frolic through the woods to hunt for BEARS. Bears that are in NO way people friendly.


Who does that?

Did you ever hear of the guy who called himself the "Grizzly Man"? Remember that he was the guy who hearted bears with all of his heart? He lived among them, but he was eventually EATEN by a grizzly bear a few years ago. May he rest in peace. But that is what bears do, peeps, so don't be surprised if you're goin'-a-huntin' for one, and you return sans your head, that has been eaten clean off your body. Bears are beautiful creatures and all, but lookie. No touchie. No huntie. Especially with your kiddos.

Perhaps this book also struck me as hilarious because the kids and I were just at the zoo two weeks ago, and it was that perfect time of day when most of the animals were not lying around and sleeping, but awake, and doing what animals inately love to do. We stopped by the grizzly bear area and the two grizzlies were walking around and playing together. They were wrestling and pawing at each other, and they had each other in an authentic, true-blue BEAR hug. The kids and I stood there and watched, because it was fascinating.

But FYI you guys? Grizzly bears are HUGE. Like unbelievably so. One of their paws is as big as your head. I know I haven't seen all of your heads, but take my word for it. One swipe at your noggin, and we'd be seeing your gray matter. If I happened upon a grizzly during a leisurely frolic through the woods with my children, I might die of fright. Or at least tinkle myself. Which would probably leave a scent for the grizzly to follow and track me down, so even if I tried to run away, there would be no such luck. Grizzly bear - 1, Clare - 0.

So this book. This adorable, sweet, classic children's book that was originally a song. Maybe I was just over-tired, but it got me thinking as I read it. Why? Of all the topics to write a children's book about, why bear hunting? I mean, really. I took my kids swimming in a pool of hungry sharks the other day, but I didn't have to go all literary and write a children's book about it.

If you haven't read this sweet little book yet, then you  do so, just so you'll know what NOT to do as a parent.

Get a load of parental stupidity at its finest:

"We're going on a bear hunt.
We're going to catch a big one.
We're not scared!
What a beautiful day."

I'm scared. Anyone else want to join me in being scared? I'm sure it's a beautiful day and all, but how about going to the park or having a picnic? Is it really necessary to take your three young children, one of whom is a baby and can't even walk yet, on a bear hunt?

"Oh-oh! A river!
A deep, cold river!
We can't go over it.
We can't go under it!
Oh no!
We've go to go through it."

You know, just like sane people do with their children.

On and on this family goes, walking through COLD rivers, carrying small children that aren't wearing life vests, walking through DARK forests, and...GET THIS. A snowstorm. They walk through a snowstorm, with wet, muddy, tired kids, all because they are looking for Teddy Ruxpin. (No, I will not explain who Teddy Ruxpin is, and if you do not know who or what he is, then congrats to you for being so young.) Finally, this family goes into a cave, a BEAR CAVE, and they are all, "OH SNAP! THERE'S A BEAR IN HERE!"

Um...duh...Brain Trust #1 and #2. That's because bears live in bear caves. Imagine that.

As they run home being chased by a bear, going back through the elements, they finally make it, but then. THEN. Then.

They forget to close the door.

I know. Shocking.

How did this couple even manage to get pregnant ONE time, let alone three times? Who does the thinking in their house?

Luckily, they close the door just in the nick of time, but the bear in the picture is growling as he looks through the panes of glass in the door. The bear's face is all, "Gee whiz! Can't get in now! Foiled again!"

Really now, Mr. Bear. I'm pretty sure with just one swipe of that furry paw, you could get your way. But thankfully not, since this IS a book for children.

I would love to read the sequel to this book. Would it be named, "The Department of Children and Family Services Called and They Said Bear Hunting is No-No"?

Or, how about, "We're Going on a Piranha Hunt"? That would be a great topic for a children's book.

"We're going on a piranha hunt.
It's in the Amazon!
We're not scared.
We've got it goin' on."

Excuse my feeble attempt at busting a rhyme. Rhyming is not my strong suit.

Anyway, what is my point of today's blog?

1.) Children's books are enjoyable, sweet and wacky, and they make me think random thoughts, like how wrong bear hunting is, especially with small children.

2.) I love reading to my kids, even if it's about two cuckoo parents who go on a bear hunt.

1 comment:

  1. Clare, this is freakin' hilarious! I'm glad I'm not the only one who's slightly horrified by kids' books. Took li'l man to storytime at the library and they read the freakiest book (can't remember the title at the moment), but I am totally blogging about it once I remember! Oh, and Teddy Ruxpin is creepy.


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