I had an epiphany while reading Dr. Seuss to my son the other day.
We were enjoying "Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?," a 1973 gem about an old man in the Desert of Drize who counsels a young listener to count his blessings.
When you think things are bad,
when you feel sour and blue,
when you start to get mad …
you should do what I do!
Just tell yourself, Duckie
you're really quite lucky!
Some people are much more …
oh, ever so much more …
oh, muchly much-much more
unlucky than you!
I use this logic exhaustively on my kids with little to no success. They may, in fact, consider cauliflower a nutrient-dense gift from the earth. They might revere bedtime as a daily reminder of their warm, safe home and all of its accouterments. It's possible they regard education as a privilege.
But they're not letting on.
Still, I yammer on about how really quite lucky they are, particularly when it comes to school.
"Getting up at 7 is not a hardship, sweetie. Girls in Afghanistan risk their lives for an education."
Sluggish homework habits, morning feet dragging, lunchbox bellyaching — all grounds for my earnest reminders.
Now we're gearing up for a new school year — one kid off to kindergarten, another heading to third grade and a third embarking on eighth. So I happened to be taking stock of my motivational tools and whether they, in fact, motivate, when my soon-to-be kindergartner and I sat down with Dr. Seuss.
The story, which may be a parody of my parenting style, a skewering of the excesses of childhood, a morality tale on the human condition or none of the above, goes like this:
And, speaking of plants