How Dr. Seuss Taught Me to Be -and Raise- A Kind Human Being
Updated: Mar 2, 2020
DISCLAIMER: It has been brought to my recent attention that there is a hate on for Dr. Suess. There is evidence of him being racist in the past and it is undeniable. However, he learned from his mistakes. He changed his mindset. He was an imperfect person who was raised in a very different time. And unlike many others, he did work at opening his mind and heart. His efforts are clear in the works I speak about below. No one on this planet is a perfect person. Please remember that before you burn these classic stories.
Like so many others, Dr. Suess has been my favourite author of all time since before I could read. Even into adulthood I loved everything about his style and his words and the beautiful messages underneath. In the digital age, it is so so so easy to raise our children with devices and screens. Despite having so many wonderful books available to us, and I myself am guilty on occasion of falling into the modern trap.
But ole Theodore Geisel is always quick to pull me back to my roots. To my passion for reading and books and the real lessons in life. That even (especially) adults need to be reminded of again and again.
Baby Bear LOVES Dr. Seuss. I didn’t force it. I didn’t even buy the books. She received the ABC book and Hop on Pop as gifts. Quickly they became her favourites. Even in the days when books with pop ups, peekaboo pages and textures feeling cut outs excited her and other books were a little boring, these books called to her. Again and again.
Seriously. We have read them A LOT. 😂
That’s okay though. I am not complaining. I will choose books and this man’s wonderful messages all day over Paw Patrol any day.
One of the most poignant memories I have of Dr. Seuss from my childhood is the Sneetches. If you are unfamiliar, it is a story about two groups of people. One group had stars on their belly’s, and the other group did not. The two groups did not mix. They were not friends. I remember the story bothering me. Why? Why couldn’t they just be friends?
Of course I learned over time the story was about bringing awareness to racism and fascism. More pointedly, it was a direct representation of the stars that Jews were forced to wear during the Nazi occupation in Europe.
The Sneetches got really quite smart on that day. The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches and no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.
That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars and whether they had one, or not, upon thars.
The Sneetches, though a rather silly word, has a message that was the farthest thing from silly. Yurtle the Turtle was also written as a warning against tyrannical leaders (ie: Hitler) and freedom from oppression, but I’ve yet to read that one. (If I am being honest.)
And today the great Yertle, that Marvelous he, is the King of the Mud. That is all he can see.
And the turtles, of course ... all the turtles are free. As turtle and, maybe, all creatures should be.
Though Hitler’s rule ended decades ago, the memory of his actions linger in our memories and the air around us. The lessons that Dr. Seuss teaches us in the two books above are a reminder of the past. But also a warning of would could happen again in the future if we forget the mistakes of our history.
I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here on the bottom, We too should have rights.
In a world of men building walls, and children torn from their mothers arms, we need Dr. Seuss. We need equality, tolerance and mutual respect across the borders. We need help, and that help starts with you.
Another excellent set of stories with a much needed message or two is Horton Hears a Who and The Lorax. These messages in fact, could not be more important when written than they are right now, today.
There is a planet, full of people. They are dying. Their planet is dying. And they are crying out for help. But when their voice is heard, they are laughed at.
Horton, the elephant that first hears their plea is not believed by others. He cannot see them. He does not understand them. But he supports them and believes in them despite their differences.
A persons a person, no matter how small.
This message is particularly important to me, as a woman and mother because it proclaims that it doesn’t matter how small you may appear, or how powerless you may feel- your voice matters. YOU matter. Put them both together and the meaning of life, and saving our lives is really quite clear. We need to do something about it our dying planet. Our disappearing resources. We need to stop living in denial and we need to start listening to those that speak up. No matter how small they are.
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
Dr. Seuss was passionate about politics, but he was also a very kind and inspirational man. His words have inspired many people all throughout their childhood, into high school graduations and beyond.
Papa Bear was given a copy of Oh the Places You Go when he was young, and has since passed it on too Baby Bear. We have no doubts she is going to do amazing things.
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
Baby Bear’s 2nd birthday is coming up in July. Feels so far away, and yet I know it will be here before I know it. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to plan a good themed party. And if you know us personally, you can most likely expect an invitation in the mail this summer for a Dr. Seuss themed party. Given her love (and our love too) for these books, there really wasn’t a better option. I haven’t gotten to personally read Happy Birthday to You, but we are going to be getting it for her gift, and using it at the party as a guest book.
I love this quote (below) and it’s celebration of everyone’s unique power. I don’t know what our little miss will grow up to be, but it’s clear already in the first year of life that she certainly is powerful and unique.
Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you’er than you.
As human beings, our only true limit is ourselves and the messages we tell ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I for one have a hard time believing in myself. It’s weird... because I know that I am a beautiful badass Queen that has so much to offer the world. Yet, I find myself plagued by doubt. I find myself listening to others when they doubt me. Especially if they are close to me.
I am still working on this. On ignoring the haters and believing that I can. AND being okay with the prospect of failure. Because failing is a possibility. It absolutely is. But what I’ve been learning is that failing is not a good enough reason not to do something. Failing helps us grow and learn, and even teach the next generations.
So don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be limited by your fears, or allow the doubts of others -even those closest to you, stop you. Failure is not the worst case scenario. Never trying, is.
Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!
The messages that Dr. Seuss wanted to teach us are not exactly radical or surprising. It’s true that they are basic. So basic, he wove them into children’s stories because they are able to understand them. Perhaps better than adults. And with each new generation, the lessons are learned and taught again.
Dr. Seuss teaches us that we must love one another. Support one another. Care for ourselves and our home. That we must believe in ourselves and do our best. That we must be kind.
And he’s right.
Happy Birthday Mr. Geisel. May your stories live on.
-Mama Bear 🐻