Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How Curious George Helps Me Be a Better Mommy

Curious George: the fun-loving, mischievous little monkey we all know and hope our children do not emulate! How long has this little guy been around?!? As it turns out, since 1941!

I remember reading his books when I was a child, so it brought me much joy when my young son took a liking to Curious George. I've been reading Curious George to him since he was an infant, maybe even earlier than that! As he has grown, his love for George has grown, too. He was so into this little monkey that, for my son's 2nd Birthday, I threw him a Curious George themed party (I'm a sucker for themed-parties :-).



Even now, two years later, we still love reading about George's silly adventures! Most recently, we have been reading the anthology books I found. So far, I've collected three anthologies, each with eight stories:


Some are the original stories written by Margret Ray, but most are recent compositions written in the author's style by a variety of writers. They all begin the same way, though: "This is George. George was a good little monkey, and always very curious". Every time we open to one of the stories, my son likes to read these dependably predictable opening lines.

As we snuggled in bed to read one this morning, I had an epiphany! I was reading "Curious George Visits the Library" (one of my son's favorites, so we have probably read it at least two dozen times) when I realized the true meaning behind these stories: children are inherently good and, though they do things that appear to be bad, these mishaps are really just a result of their desire to learn about the world in which they live.

Simple, I know! But, when George went careening down the library ramp on the book cart, and crashed into a muddled pile of library books, I thought to myself, "His love for literature and learning got him into this mess!" If my son had done something like this, my first instinct would have been to yell or cry out, "What have you done?" But, reading about this in a book gave me a new perspective: scolding George, or my son, could have a negative impact on their love for learning. I don't think the child would be able to discern that the problem is the resulting mess, but would rather associate the discipline with their curiosity. And, when we discipline a child for something, they will naturally and eventually repress that trait for fear of not wanting to get into trouble again.

Of course, I'm not advocating that children do not need structure and discipline because I most certainly believe they do. What I realized from reading Curious George this morning, though, is to tread lightly; look at the situation from your child's perspective to get a better understanding of why they did what they did.

I've been reading Curious George for most of my life, and it took being a Mom to really appreciate what this little monkey teaches us: there's a fine line between mischief and curiosity. I want to teach my son right from wrong, but not at the expense of nurturing this curiosity! Thanks George :-)

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8 comments:

  1. Sammy,
    I love this post! It is so important to think about our kids and the fine lines you talk about. It is interesting to think about how your point of view has changed now that you are a mother. It reminds me of No David! Many people also have different points of view on that text. Thanks for sharing and pushing me to see Curious George through a new lens.
    Clare

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    1. Hi Clare, thanks so much for your response! I think the No David! books are just as enlightening for parents and educators! It's funny how so many of the picture books we choose for our children, hold lessons for us, too :-)

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  2. Dare I admit I cannot stand Curious George? Naughty characters will not find their way on my bookshelf. However, I do agree that one needs to look for the reason when kids misbehave.

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    1. Hi Elsie, I have to agree that some of his shenanigans cross a line, even for me! I think the original stories are more innocent in nature, and those written in recent years, by other authors, have gained in mischief. Thanks for stopping by :-)

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  3. Yes, there is a fine live between naughtiness and curiosity, and I think many times one leads to the other. BTW - I love the Curious George hat!

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    1. Thanks, Leigh Anne! It was actually his baby cousin's beanie but when he put it on and made that face, I couldn't help myself :-)

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  4. Ha! I love Curious George. I also read these books to my three children when they were little. I hadn't quite thought about it before, but I think you're right: the message is that kids are inherently good even if they make messes from time to time. :-)

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    1. Thanks for your visit, Elisa! I'm not sure what prompted this moment of lucidity, but I have been getting rather frustrated with my little guy lately, so I think I was looking for a message :-)

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