Children's Books, Mannies, and Waiting Rooms

I'm not stretching it when I say I've probably read thousands of children's books. My feeling is that children are unmanageable, well let's say difficult, until they can read for themselves, so why not read to them?

It's not about getting them into pre-pre-school. Many times I just looked at the pictures of children's book and made stuff up, like you probably do when you're too tired to read to your kids.

Not that I bought thousands of children's books, but I read over and over again the ones that I did buy . The survivors are pretty well worn. But we have some new ones, some of them pop-up books, those 3-dimensional books where the beak of a bird pops out at the kid like a . . .beak.

We have occasional new copies of older books, the ones that came out in the 80's, mostly.

But I have to ask you. Can you really stand the Berenstain Bears? I can't. Maybe it's the color of Mama Bear. I just hate that blue. Or her hat.

The Dr. Seuss books are fine, yes, of course, who doesn't love Dr. Seuss, and The Places You'll Go makes me cry. I recently I read a book my son B bought for my grandson E, maybe it's new, Carl's Masquerade by Alexandra Day. The book is so totally delightful that I really could read it a thousand times. The dog is the babysitter.

There are books that simply make us so happy, like anything illustrated by Steven Kellogg. My favorite is Margaret Mahy's The Boy Who Was Followed Home. I just love that book where the hippos follow Robert home. Much Bigger Than Martin is pretty fabulous, too.

So when I had my not so proverbial 16 month (K"H) granddaughter on my knee last week I had to make a decision. Do we read a book with cardboard pages and pop-outs that she'll surely rip right off and stick in her mouth, or do we go with Vogue?

We went with Vogue.

She likes clothes, so why not? I shielded her from the looks on the more lascivious models when I had to. Is it really the only way to sell magazines? Do men actually buy magazines like Vogue for the soft porn?

I get Vogue ostensibly for the waiting room, but it comes to my home. There's a good reason. If I had it delivered to the office, then I'd have to shlep it home to read it. There's no time at work for leafing through magazines. This way Vogue stays where it belongs in that pile on my bedroom floor until I get in the mood to read it, move it or recycle it.

Nobody waits for me long enough at the office to need much reading material anyway. We have an understanding about time that transcends the need for props other than the 'zines the other therapy doc's have provided for the waiting room, Good Housekeeping and Family Circle, circa 1980's.

I used to keep WE (a hot softly pornographic fashion magazine) in the waiting room until a 7-year old boy saw a model in her underwear and grabbed it and wouldn't let go. His mother was not pleased.

That ended that.

So little HH and I went through the silky summer clothes in Vogue as she fidgeted and tore at the pages. She hopped off my lap just as I got to About a Boy, a short piece by Holly Peterson (great) about mannies. I wondered if Holly had any problems using that title since chick lit writer Nick Hornby (How to Be Good, High Fidelity, About a Boy) did so well with it.

That guy's sold screen plays with his chick lit. He'd know about mannies, probably.

Oh you want to know about mannies. I did, too. This passed me by, this manny phenomenon, although we did use a couple of guys and dozens of adolescent girls for babysitters when we had the twins and M came so close on their heels. Keeping an eye on the sitters, their genders, and the vodka was difficult.

Things tended to disappear but I appreciated that the boy baby-sitters could keep up with my little ones in a way that the girls could not.

The testosterone and energy in our house used to make me dizzy, especially after adding two more little guys years later (4 years between them following the bonanza) . But to a guy, even a locker room isn't a challenge.

A manny is basically a guy nanny, really a governor, preferably a surfer or an ex-camp counselor who can gently but firmly keep little kids in line yet work them to the point of exhaustion and still get them fed, maybe bathed, before mom gets home.

Well, I added that; Ms. Peterson didn't mention bathing or feeding. That's a nanny job.

People have both, mannies AND nannies.

The manny will teach your son to play like a guy plays (that's good I hear) and because he's strong can grab the little fellow when he's being mischievous, raise him firmly to eye level, give him that watch it if you know what's good for you look, and the little tyke is putty in his hands. He learns behavioral and emotional control toute de suite or suffers unimaginable consequences.

And apparently the manny can be easy on the eyes, too.

But between you and me?

I'd get serious references, here. (Not that you wouldn't with the girls, of course.)

copyright 2007, therapydoc


Just found your blog. Enjoyed the post a lot. I make my living with words and with books. In my home office on prominent display is a copy of LEO THE LATE BLOOMER. I found it reading to children, but I'VE hung onto it for me!
therapydoc said…
Thanks! I'll get Leo next stop at Borders (and I'll read your blog, soon as I can).
my son is really into the chapter books now. I have to say i miss the younger books with their beautiful illustrations and pop-ups!
Emy L. Nosti said…
Was that question about if guys buy Vogue for the pictures rhetorical? Couldn't tell.

I remember liking Bearenstein bears (though if I recall, their claw-hands were kind of creepy), never got too much into Dr. Seuss, but really preferred the more unique, clever, foreign, or richly illustrated stories like Tikki Tikki Tembo, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi & audio Just So Stories (Rudyard Kipling), Shel Silverstein books, Frederick & Swimmy (both by Leo Lionni). Man I loved those :)

And then there was me reading Dracula to my 3-mo-old niece during a final exam panic last year... (though it probably wasn't scarier than Secret of NIMH).
therapydoc said…
I haven't any idea how many men subscribe to Vogue, but I'd imagine the numbers aren't small. I wish the 'zine would change that sales pitch (the soft porn). It's really not necessary.

But I am sure that I would be shouted down at a focus group (marketing sales research that polls consumer opinions in small groups).
Emy L. Nosti said…
They use that as a sales pitch!?

Sorry, guess my total ignorance of these sorts of magazines shows. I've looked through about 10 in my life, and maybe never Vogue... (I do know the song though!)

Still, seems kinda crazy. It's not like there's a shortage of appropriate magazines for that (Maxim/FHM if I recall correctly). You'd think most guys would rather be seen with one of those than a fashion mag. Or maybe I just need to get out more.
therapydoc said…
I'm so out of it I didn't even know about these, but M just explained their raison d'etre.
Emy L. Nosti said…
Okay, I'm really starting to feel dense today. What/who's M?
therapydoc said…
M is Empath Daught. Sorry.
Emy L. Nosti said…
Gotcha. I figured it was a family member, but wasn't sure if you maybe you meant Maxim or its wiki entry. (Wow, I suddenly see why you don't shorten Empath Daughter as you did with FD, or at least one reason.)

Anyway, I have to get back to some dull things I've been avoiding...have a good night :)

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