Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Person's A Person, No Matter How Small

or, You Know You Have "Mommy Brain" When Your Most Profound Thoughts Come From Dr. Seuss.

Of course, Dr. Seuss is pure genius. Only he can write children's books about things like environmentalism, self-esteem, prejudice, peace, the global arms race, contentment, creativity, success, gratitude, greed and vanity using words like jigger-rock snatchem and yook zook. Books that are still not only in print, but remain popular decades after their original publication.

My daughter is currently into musical theater, so we went to see Seussical Jr. last month. Since then, I have probably listened to the score a thousand times. Literally a thousand. It is fun and catchy - you can definitely sing to it - but it's one of those things that sticks in your head and is impossible to get out. I find myself singing it everywhere, all the time.

For those who have not had the pleasure of seeing it, you must. It is based on the Horton stories (Horton Hears a Who and Horton Hatches the Egg) but there are elements of many other stories woven in. The Master of Ceremonies is the Cat in the Hat, and the curtain call song is Green Eggs and Ham - all in all, there are elements of 17 Dr. Seuss books represented.

Anyway, the main plot of the story is Horton's efforts to save Who, the "tiniest planet in the sky" which is on a speck of dust that he carefully places "down - safe! - on a very soft clover" and guards even though he is scorned and mocked as "the biggest blame fool in the Jungle of Nool" for his efforts by the other jungle animals, especially the Sour Kangaroo. Horton's refrain is "a person's a person, no matter how small."

And here is the genius of Dr. Seuss. He manages to distill my personal parenting philosophy, and one of the main cornerstones of Wellspring Community School, into a pithy line uttered by an elephant named Horton who lives in the Jungle of Nool.

Adults and children differ in terms of experience, or opinion, or vocabulary, or ability to understand subtlety and complexity - just as, by the way, adults all differ from each other. Yet, there is more about us that is alike than different and our thoughts, needs and emotions all deserve equal respect. A person's a person, no matter how small. I love that. So simple, yet so profound.

No comments:

Post a Comment