April 16, 2009

Bedtime Story Psychology

I just put my two year old down for her afternoon nap. Before putting her down I usually read to her. The book of choice today was Runaway Bunny.

It is a recent addition to our library. A gift that I appreciate. (Please don't take offense Grandma)... I love the illustrations and I know it's a classic, but has anyone ever stopped to look at the message this story is sending? It's the story of a bunny who keeps threatening to run away from his mother rabbit. Every idea baby bunny comes up with is countered by the mother.  "I'll be a fish and swim away" says baby bunny. "Then I'll turn into a fisherman and catch you." replies the mother.  "I'll turn into a flower and hide in the garden."  Mother turns into a gardner with a giant hoe, etc. etc...  In the end baby bunny gives up and says he might as well just stay put and accept his mother's oppressive love. It has a similar theme to this book:

This is the one where the mother only professes her love when her baby is sleeping, yet she does wack-a-doodle stuff like climb into his window at night when he's a full grown adult to rock him gently back and forth back and forth... I did read this one to my older kids, but somebody slap me if I ever drive across town to their homes toting a large ladder.

The Run Away Bunny reminded me of the times when I was a child and would tell my mother that I think rather than put up with all her rules, I would just run away and find my real mother Samantha Stevens. She'd say "okay then, let me help you pack. I sure will miss you though." Yes she'd pull out the reverse psychology and it worked almost every time. I say almost because this one time I called her bluff. When she wasn't looking I packed a bag, grabbed a box of Cheerios, and headed for the back yard in a grove of wild oak trees. I believe I was also packing a sleeping bag. I stayed outside just beyond our much disputed property line (my neighbor Joey Covey and I were always discussing where our property ended and his began), eating handfuls of cereal until I heard my mother's voice calling me. I could hear her loud and clear over the outside intercom system. I refused to budge. Then something I didn't expect happened. The calling stopped.... time passed... no. one. came. 

It was just as I had suspected, not my real family, no real caring inside that 13 bedroom house. Being child number 10 in a family with 13 kids made it hard to feel special sometimes. This was a low point. At some point my hunger for love gave in and I came back with tear streaked cheeks. My mother wasn't even looking panicked. I told her of her crime of not noticing/caring. I actually don't recall the response. Just that I had rehearsed my part to perfection in the unsacred grove.

The new perspective I have as a parent is to never let them see you sweat!  The moment you do they know your weak spot and you'll never have the upper hand again.  Then there are also times when it's just as good to hug them tight and let them know your whole world is wrapped up in them.  Just don't go climbing any second story windows to get to your college student's dorm room.  'Cause that is just embarrassing!


Kristina P. said...

I totally forgot about The Runaway Bunny! I loved that book!

CSIowa said...

I prefer The Runaway Bunny to Goodnight, Moon, no contest.

I will come running with the straight jacket if I ever see you transporting a ladder farther than your backyard. How embarrassing--for you, and your daughter-in-law!

Laurel C. said...

I totally related to this post! I am the oldest of 7 children and know exactly what you are talking about! I ran away several times to the side yard of our house. You were smart and took food; I was an idiot and only took my bike.

Being a kid in a big family is tough sometimes, but in other ways it sure teaches kids a lot. I can't decide if I feel sorry for my 2 kids for missing out on the big family experience, or if I think they are lucky. I will have to think about that one some more.

I loved your story! Thanks for sharing.

literaqueen said...

I always thought the end of "I'll Love You Forever" was just a little creepy. Who wants Grandma to be a stalker? I will so stop you if you ever head towards your grown kids' house with a ladder!