This week, the lil’ monkey’s preschool is on vacation. As evidenced by the yawning gaps between posts, I find myself with a bit more childcare on my hands. In between our many trips to the zoo, the arboretum, the natural history museum, the botanical garden, the planetarium, and the Museum of Modern Art, our guided tours of the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange, the Google campus, and rehearsals of The Bonesetter’s Daughter at the San Francisco Opera house, our expeditions on a shrimp fishing boat and a local archeological dig, and finally our attendance at talks at the Commonwealth Club, I have occasionally tried to engage them at home so’s to snatch a little time to work.
(I’d say I was snatching time to watch the Democratic National Convention on CNN, but remember? No live TV! So I’ll have to catch Michelle Obama’s speech on YouTube.) [Later note: who needs YouTube? How 'bout team Obama?]
Fortunately for me, one promising development has been that the girlchild has taken to offering up renditions of her favorite “Beatrix Pottery” volumes to the boychild. Bless his soul, he’s taking a shine to it.
Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin begins, “This is a tale about a tail — a tail that belonged to a little red squirrel, and his name was Nutkin.” Nutkin basically demonstrates himself to be a royal pain in the arse of Old Brown, a dour owl on whose island Nutkin and his numerous cousins are gathering nuts. Without giving away the whole plot, I’ll just say that Nutkin eventually gets his comeuppance, narrowly averting becoming a handbag, or more to the point, Old Brown’s appetizer. [Spoiler alert! He loses the better part of his tail as he makes his escape -- thus "the tale about a tail."]
Of course I use the term “renditions” for a reason. The lil’ monkey isn’t reading in the conventional sense, but rather free-associating the plot-line, based on a combination of her memory and a fairly creative interpretation of the illustrations.
I can’t recall what she did with the above illustration. Maybe, “When Squirrel Nutkin ignores his Baba, his Baba sets the nasty owl on him to threaten to break his little squirrel knees.”
Oh, every now and then, she loses her audience.
Baba’s pretty used to that too. Looks like she’s taking it pretty well. What’s most important is that she’s having a lasting impact, as a role model.
And that’s just the beginning of the story.