P’ito and I were reading on of our old favorites this morning – David Shannon’s Duck on a Bike – and as I read it, I started to get a queasy feeling in my stomach. For those who are not familiar with the story, a duck (male) sees a bike, climbs on it, and rides around the farmyard, interacting with various animals as he goes. When a bunch of kids come by on bikes and then leave them outside, the whole farmyard gets to join in, pedalling around with great glee and then putting the bikes back so that “no one knew that on that afternoon, there had been a cow, a sheep, a dog, a cat, a chicken, a goat, two pigs, a mouse, and a duck on a bike.”
Seems harmless, no? But let’s look at the gender of the animals and the way they react to Duck riding the bike:
|Animal||Gender||“What she/he thought was…”||Reaction Category|
|Cow||Female||“A duck on a bike? That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever seen!”||Critical|
|Sheep||Female||“He’s going to hurt himself if he’s not careful”||Critical/Cautious|
|Dog||Male||“That is a mighty neat trick||Active/enthusiastic|
|Cat||Female||“I wouldn’t waste my time riding a bike||Critical/Passive|
|Horse||Male||“You’re still not as fast as me, Duck!||Critical/Active|
|Chicken||Female||“Watch where you’re going, Duck!”||Critical/Cautious|
|Goat||Male||“I’d like to eat that bike!”||Active|
|Pig and Pig||Undefined (they)||“Duck is such a show-off||Critical|
|Mouse||Male||“I wish I could ride a bike just like Duck.”||Active|
When you see it laid out like this, what does this book tell you about the differences between boys and girls? And is that the message you want your kid to be learning?
I still read it to P’ito – because it’s a fun book and he loves it. I’ve just started swapping the genders around. But it’s a reminder to me of how unconsciously these messages slip in…
I promise you that if I ever send your kid a present, it won’t talk, beep, flash, shriek or otherwise induce seizures. It won’t randomly start chatting in the middle of the night (Did the cat step on it? Are the batteries dying? Or is it poltergeist?) causing you or your child or both of you to wake up in a cold sweat.
So if I gave your child something with a battery in it? I hate you.
Seriously, I usually give books to all the little ones in my life. Okay, and a few kid-powered toys, and art stuff, and pretend play stuff – and – but, really, usually books. This works great for kids I know well and kids who are near P’ito’s age. Not so great for my six year old nephew who I see twice a year and who doesn’t need another copy of Where the Wild Things Are. And I’m a book snob, so no syndicated characters or television tie-ins please.
This site was put together by author James Patterson to give parents, teachers and librarians recommendations for books that “kids would absolutely, positively love… [that they] will gobble up and ask for more.”
It’s divided into four age categories: Great Illustrated Books (0-8), Great Transitional Books (6 & up), Great Page Turners (8 & up), and Great Advanced Reads (10 & up) with further subdivisions within each category. I knew I was in the right place when I saw some new and old favorites in the mix. Kitten’s First Full Moon, I Stink, and Knuffle Bunny (or, as P’ito calls it “Aggle Flaggle Clabble Book!”) – check! Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler? Check!
I picked up a lot of great gift ideas browsing through the listings here – a nice change from my old standards. I also came up with about $150 worth of ways to spend that $20 Amazon gift certificate… thanks Mother-Talk. Thanks a lot.
I’m looking forward to sharing new-to-me titles like Dear Zoo, Ten Little Fingers, and I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More with P’ito (plus, each book listing gives you suggestions for other books if you liked that one). And my nephew? He’s getting I’m Still Here in the Bathtub. But don’t tell him that.
Of course I have a few quibbles: I want MORE. MORE BOOKS PEOPLE! And in the older age ranges it seems like there’s a lot of the this and that series books. But mostly – a very useful jumping off point for your future career as the aunt or uncle who never needs batteries.
Sometimes we use cloth. I have gotten over my initial p(oop)tsd and am quite fond of the cloth now. Sometimes we use disposies. Thanks for the offer, Sassy, but I think I will pass on sending them to Australia to be recycled… I will however, send out a HUGE thank you to Shelli, Narda & Malka for sending P’ito a buttload (pun very much intended) of 7th generations. We are MOST grateful.
Everyone makes the choice that is right for them. And that is a-okay with me. No diaper wars here, please.
Oh, and I have a post that actually contains semi-coherent thoughts and some serious navel gazing up at Lesbian Family. And I put it up last night, and um, no one has commented on it yet, and now I am not-so-secretly worrying that I Am The Only One Who Feels This Way. And if you want to know what “this way” is you will have to go over there and read it.
Emailed to Sears.Com. I am going to say SEARS SEARS SEARS as many times as possible in this post so that people who are searching for SEARS APPLIANCE REPAIR come across this instead!
Dear Sears Appliance Repair:
Yesterday morning, I called Sears to schedule a repair visit for my fridge, which was not cooling. After turning down an extremely unpleasant hard sell to prepay for the repairs, I was assured that an appointment was available today, and a repairman would call me to schedule. By the time it was clear that no repairman was going to call or show up, it was too late for me to schedule an appt with another company and I had a fridge full of spoiled food.
When I called Sears, I was told that “someone should have called me” to tell me that no one was coming, and that the next available appt was on Saturday! As far as I am concerned, Sears is responsible for over $200 worth of groceries going to waste. I called a different repair company this morning and had a serviceman present within the hour.
I have been a loyal customer of Sears for many years now, but will never purchase or repair another appliance with you again, and will advise all my friends and relatives to do the same. Your name is now mud in my book.
p.s. Pepito is pissed at Sears too.
Is now looking more and more like a nursery.
It’s got a bright red crib*.
We bought a car seat and had it installed (in the car).
Then we bought a dresser, and had to uninstall the carseat to get the dresser in the backseat.
Idli seems a little nervous.
Bart is oblivious.
One week until he’s back in our arms, for good, and everything changes.
*Yes, we painted the crib. We used this fantastic paint. You tell them the brand, name, and color number of the color you want, and they ship you (free fedex shipping) a no-VOC version of the paint.
I’m sorry for the lack of updates…
We’ve been running around frantically trying to get ready for the supposed arrival of a Real Live (and probably crawling) Baby in these parts.
I spent the weekend painting over the world’s Most Hideous Wallpaper in the room formerly known as The Guest Room, much to the delight of Tía D., who frequently occupies said room, and has been trying to get us to paint it for four years now. Pili was out of town, and probably thought I had been running around auditioning for girls gone wild due to my utter inability to concoct some plausible story about what I was doing with myself all weekend long. Witness:
Do click through to flickr to appreciate the teal and pink splendor that was our guestroom. I picked out a light yellow for the walls because there are going to be a lot of bright colors in the room – the crib is going to be painted a nice lively red color, and the glider chair is also a big splash of red.
It looks a hundred times better. Tía D., I apologize for all the pastel-dinosaur nightmares you’ve had over the past four years.
Still no solid word on when that arrival will take place. GAL is expecting to hear about our embassy appt on Wednesday or Thursday, which means that a) GB’s firstmom has signed off for the last time, b) his new birth certificate and passport have been issued, and c) all that has been submitted to the U.S. Embassy for a visa (pink slip). If you hear a loud shriek coming from the northeast late weds or early thursday, it means we have an embassy date.
I alternate between wanting to be minimalist mom: changing table, who needs a frickin’ changing table? and coming with up arguments for buying absurdly expensive strollers and other baby accouterments. I’m nervous that my “no showers til we’re out of PGN” attitude means that we’re going to wind up buying all our baby stuff ourself… which gawd, could I be more of a spoiled brat? And could this post be any more boring? And what kind of stroller should we buy?