I discovered A Very Bad Case of Stripes last week during my mall/bookstore date with Jia two weeks ago. I loved it sooo much that even though I was in a self-imposed moratorium on book buying, I still bought it. The story (written and illustrated by David Shannon) was about a girl, Camilla Cream, who loved lima beans but did not eat them because she was very worried about what her classmates would think of her (everybody hated lima beans, you know! *rolleyes*). As the story opened, it was Camilla’s first day of school and she was having a hard time choosing her clothes for the day. She tried on 42 outfits (yes, 42!) because “there were so many people to impress!” While trying on the clothes, she looked at the mirror and screamed – she was covered in stripes! Her skin was striped from head to toe! What’s worse, when she went to school, her skin changed colors/patterns to whatever her classmates wanted it to be. It was as if her skin, just like her, cared so much about what other people thought and just followed the trend.
Jia and Joya have over 300 books combined (as of my last count around middle of last year). With so many books on different subjects, it was so hard to organize . Jia pestered me to label her book shelves so it’s easier for her and us to fix her books. I just got so exasperated that I asked my mommy group how they organize their home library. Kat, one of the mommies I super admire, gave me this link. I was super excited! I printed out the labels and worked on it one weekend. The result? I have organized books per topic! Ang saya!!!
Putting the labels
When Jia first started in her school, I was given a copy of the books that the school recommends for the kids. Since the school is promoting reality-based books for Casa (pre-school) children (fairy tales are not encouraged) and since it is actually hard to get hold of books like those, I made extra effort to get hold of the books they recommended.
So I know I have been gone a while but I am working on a new blog interface and a new blog address (suggestions for a new blog name, anyone?) and I was not supposed to blog yet I was just so excited to share this…
There’s this website called Educents. They give coupons to get discounts on educational products offered by other websites. I learned this from Rhoda, a friend I met through N@W. I signed up for an account (which was a hassle, I tell you) but it was totally worth it because now, I am getting email updates for the deals and coupons and freebies.
Jia was having a hard time sleeping because she had a nap after school today. So instead of forcing her to sleep which I know will only result to never-ending refrains of “But, Mom, I CAN’T sleep!!!” I told her I would read her one more story but she had to promise to sleep right after. She agreed and I could see that she was excitedly thinking of which story to request for. I gently cut her off and said I’ll be the one to choose the story. She was surprised but also excited to see what book I was going to get.
When I returned to her bed with the book, she read the title, ‘Mama, how much do you love me?’, and asked me what it was about. It was a “new” book since I just got it from Booksale yesterday. I got it from the bottom shelf. I wasn’t familiar with the book but I was really grateful that I saw it. I loved it the story and I loved the rich illustrations and I was looking forward to reading it to Jia and Joya.
I explained to Jia that the book was about an Innuit (“I like to go and play in the snow in winter, Mom!”) mom and daughter.
“An ate?” she asked.
“No, she has no baby brother so she is not an ate. It is just about her and her mom.”
I told her to settle in so we could read together. She did but not before telling me to change the title to ‘Mommy, do you love me.’ “You’re mommy, not mama,” she reasoned. 🙂
MAMA, DO YOU LOVE ME?
Written by Barbara M. Joosse
Illustrated by Barbara Lavallee
Published by Chronicle Books 1991
Mama, do you love me?
Yes I do, Dear One.
I love you more than the raven loves his treasure, more than the dog loves his tail, more than the whale loves his spout.
I’ll love you until the umiak flies into the darkness, till the stars turn to fish in the sky, and the puffin howls at the moon.
Then I would be angry.
What if I threw water at our lamp?
Then, Dear One, I would be very angry. But still, I would love you.
What if I ran away?
Then, Dear One, I would be very sad.
But still, I would love you.
What if I turned into a musk-ox?
Then I would be surprised.
What if I turned into a walrus?
Then I would be surprised and a little scared.
What if I turned into a polar bear, and I was the meanest bear you ever saw and I had sharp, shiny teeth, and I chased you into your tent and you cried?
Then I would be very surprised and very scared. But still, inside the bear, you would be you, and I would love you.
I will love you, forever and for always, because you are my Dear One.
Jia loved the story as much as I did. In the part where the daughter was asking about running away, Jia asked me if I love her even when she goes away.
“Yes” I replied.
“But I don’t go out by myself, Mom. I’m just here. I don’t leave. I just go here and here,” referring to part of the house.
I smiled. That was her way of telling me that I should not be scared because she will not leave me.
When I finished the story we talked about how much I love her. I asked her if she knew why we love her.
“Because I’m a good ate.”
“Because I’m a good person.”
“No, we love you because you’re our child. And even if you forget to be a good person, we still love you. Daddy and mommy really love you, Jia.”
She smiled and I knew she understood. I remember about a month ago when she did something “bad” (‘bad’ in quotes because her bad things are not really bad) so I was scolding her. In the middle of my litanya, she interrupted me and while smiling, asked, “Mom, we still love each other, right?” So, of course I calmed down and assured her that yes, I still love her.
I love Jia. And I am amazed that we can talk profoundly (using the term loosely here) about things that matter.
After talking about the book she confided with me that sometimes she doesn’t want to play with Joya because Joya doesn’t understand her when she says not to disturb her. “I tell him, ‘Joya, don’t disturb Ate’ but he still disturbs me, Mom.” We talked about how she feels when Joya does that or when Joya breaks her blocks castle or when Joya folds pages of her books. She ended our conversation with “I love my baby brother, Mom.” and then turned her back to me so she can sleep while I was hugging her from behind. I kissed her and hugged her good night and then Joya suddenly woke up.
“Can I just feed Joya, Ate? He wants milk.”
I went to the big bed where Joya was and nursed him. After a couple of minutes, I looked at Jia and she was already fast asleep.
When I was not yet married, my mom told me that fairy tales are not good for kids. Why? Because almost all, if not all, are not good examples.
In Cinderella, granted that her stepmom was a really bad person (oh yes, in fairy tales, stepmothers are evil incarnates), she still went to the party even with the explicit rule not to do so. And then what happened? After not following orders and going to a party, the prince fell in love with her and “rescued” her.
Snow White was told by the dwarves not to let anyone in. She did not follow (of course this was because she was a kind-hearted person and could not understand why an old woman can be evil) and ate the apple given by the old woman. The dwarves found her lifeless, but lo and behold, a prince came by and with the magic of his kiss, brought her back to life. The prince saves the day.
In the original Little Mermaid, Sirenetta craved for the world not her own and she willingly accepted gave up her voice and willingly accepted that her legs will hurt beyond imagination “As long as [she] can go back to him!”
In the Disney version, Ursula gets Ariel’s voice and assures her that “You’ll have your looks! Your pretty face!” She actually said
“[Men are] not all that impressed with conversation
True gentlemen avoid it when they can
But they dote and swoon and fawn
On a lady who’s withdrawn”
Di ba?! Naman! Babaeng hindi nagsasalita ang peg?!
So I knew that fairy tales are not good and I told myself I will not let her be addicted to princess stories (especially Disney Princesses) BUT of course, knowing and actually doing something are two different things (and this is where I want to hit myself). Someone gave Jia a book on Disney Princesses and she loved it! We would read the stories together and she literally slept with the book beside her. It was all okay until one day:
Jia: Mom, let’s pretend I’m Cinderella.
Jia: You’re the stepmother.
*After 5 seconds*
Jia: Hmmm… Stepmother?
Me: Yes? *in my normal voice*
Jia: MOM!!! You’re the stepmother. You’re a bad person! Talk badly.
Sokay, I admit I did not catch this and just let her be. BUT after a few weeks:
Jia: *with so much conviction on her voice* Mom, if I kiss a frog, it will turn into a prince!
Jia: Huh? Mom, it will turn into a prince!
Me: No, Jia, if you kiss a frog, you will get rashes!
And then a few weeks ago, Jia and I were talking about something not at all related to princesses. The kid in the story was having a problem when Jia suddenly said
“And the prince will come and save her and they will fall in love and get married.”
Ay, yun na! No more fairy tales from now on. Or at least until she’s 6 when Montessori says kids can differentiate between truth and make-believe.
How about you? Do you read fairy tales to your kids?
A year ago, I subscribed to MightyBookJr. using a coupon code shared by Rheea of Rainy Days and Mom Days (oh, I find her blog title super witty!). This morning when I was trying to login, I realized that our membership had already expired! I was saddened because Jia has been looking forward to listening to stories. Just to check if it would work, I subscribed using another email address and used the same coupon again. It did! I’m so happy and Jia is now happily reading online books. Saved USD$99, too!
So for those who would want to be a member, use the code learntoread The site is really good. It has books, games, puzzles, etc. It even has lesson plans and quizzes for the moms who want to use the books for their lessons.