I create context. I also write blog posts:

So It Turns Out I’ve Been Living A Lie

Posted: March 2nd, 2011 | Author: | 6 Comments »

MY MOTHER was a children’s librarian for years, both before and after I was born. When I was learning to read, it was awesome. There were always new books in the house and when we finished them, they disappeared and new ones showed up. Like magic. Even back in elementary school, I was pretty cocky about it. Teachers would sit down to read something new and I’d feign boredom and sigh. “Goodnight Moon? Get outta here, of course I’ve read it. Frog and Toad? Those are my bread and butter, baby! The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Who hasn’t?” There isn’t a good children’s book out there that I haven’t read… Or, at least, I thought so until today.


Today is Theodor Geisel’s birthday. Theodore Geisel is Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss is a hero among children (and, I would imagine, children’s librarians.) Children count One Fish, Two Fish in their sleep, they know that it’s ok to eat Green Eggs And Ham, and they graduated kindergarten with a reading of Oh The Places You’ll Go.


Even today, when people mention favorite memories of their childhood and they get into the Babars and the Amelia Bedelias and the Hardy Boys, I feel that cocky streak come alive again.

“Child’s play! You want a good kick in the head, you should check out Ida Early Comes over the Mountain. That stuff’ll change the way you think.”

But any time somebody mentions Dr. Seuss, it feels like I have amnesia, like a big black hole in my head, ’cause I’m thinking “I must’ve read it but I have no idea.” Today, while I was reading all the quotes and fond memories, I felt that same haze creep in again.


I emailed my mother this morning to ask her what she was doing to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday. I was pretty excited, because twitter was filled with Seussical quotes and even Mailchimp’s login screen (pictured above) bore the good doctor’s mark. I was expecting her to say that the library was doing something special or that she had read one of her favorites for old-time’s sake.

She didn’t do either. In fact, her response was the opposite:

Can’t say I was ever a fan of his books – a cat that made such a mess and got those kids into trouble was pretty scary to me! [Ed. Note: I'm assuming she means when she was little. I don't think she's still afraid of The Cat In The Hat.]

It turns out that I didn’t read any Dr. Seuss when I was a kid! I only got whatever we read in school.

My brother chimed in on the email thread: “I distinctly remember Mom and I reading Dr. Seuss books and Dad coming by and saying, ‘I thought you hated those books,’ to which Mom responded, ‘They’re terrible books, but they’re great for learning how to read.’”

Mom responded: “Thanks, Jason! It’s true – the language is great for learning how to read. But I think we switched to the Frog and Toad books for Peter.”


Nothing I know is the same anymore. I’m a fraction of who I thought I was.

But instead of cowering in the corner, I’m embracing this. I’m facing the world optimistically and taking charge of my life.

Today, I am a new man!

And I’ve got just the thing to inspire me along the way:

be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

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6 Comments on “So It Turns Out I’ve Been Living A Lie”

  1. 1 Mom said at 4:48 pm on March 2nd, 2011:

    You may not have read Seuss, but I’ll bet the breadth of your reading is more diverse than most of the kids you grew up with! Everyone knows the Cat in the Hat, but do they know Aldo Applesauce? Rusty Jordan? Lukas-Kasha?

  2. 2 Pete said at 7:30 pm on March 2nd, 2011:

    Ha! I don’t disagree!

  3. 3 Laura Falin said at 8:14 pm on March 2nd, 2011:

    now that I think about it, he’s not my favorite, either. But it is fun to make unsuspecting adults read Fox in Socks.

  4. 4 Pete said at 9:57 pm on March 2nd, 2011:

    Hahaha… Yeah, I can definitely think of others that I like better — thanks mom!

    And to be honest, the characters always creeped me out a little bit. I mean, what is that thing at the top of the page?

  5. 5 Amanda said at 11:44 am on March 3rd, 2011:

    I had the same argument with my mother over Play-Doh. I was never allowed to have Play-Doh, and my mom swears up and down that she let me play with it. She didn’t – and I have my four siblings and cousin to back me up.

    “But I always bought you the nicer modeling beeswax from HearthSong!” she argued. Yes, the beeswax was nice and I was grateful for it, but I still did not get to indulge in the Play-Doh that all of my other friends played with and mashed together until it turned a nasty grey or brown.

    So what did I get for my 21st birthday? Thirty containers of it.

  6. 6 Pete said at 1:27 pm on March 3rd, 2011:

    Ha! That’s awesome!

    Play-Doh was another part of my childhood that was integral (at least, I think so… today, I’m questioning everything!)

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