April Fool’s Day, Childish Mischief or Ingenious Merriment?
All Fools’ Day or April Fool’s is an ancient celebration with universal roots. A day perceived as cheerful and mischievous, childish and absurd, its appeal to the human sense of humor and intellect is what probably made it last throughout the years. Or perhaps that breaking down the general barriers for just one day and shining a different light on life is just the tonic humanity needs, thinks sociologist Jonathan Wynn.
April Fool’s origin
2000 years ago Romans celebrated Hilaria (Latin for “happiness”) at the end of March, a day of fun and nonsense when people would dress up in disguises. The Northern Hemisphere displays unpredictable weather during this time of the year, playing tricks on people so here’s another speculation for April 1st as for centuries humanity took their cues from and looked for answers in nature. Around the same time Hindus celebrate Holi, the Festival of Color, one of the few non-religious Hindu celebrations of merrymaking and generally “letting loose”. The Jewish Purim, a lively and fun festival, is also celebrated mid-March. Surprising how this time of the year brings merriment and well-being all around the world!
Another explanation for April Fool’s is that during the reign of Roman Emperor Constantine a group of court jesters proclaimed that they will be able to do a better job at running the empire than he did. In those times court fools were wise people, held in high regard. So Constantine played, along allowing Kugel the Jester to be king for one day. Kugel used his power wisely and proclaimed that day one of absurdity and trickery, thus putting life into a different light. His edict pleased the masses and it became an annual event – says BU Emertius Professor of History Joseph Boskin in this interview.
Professor Boskin actually prancked the American public with this story on April 1st 1983.
April’s Fools Practices around the World
In Scotland people are being sent in a “fool’s errand”, “hunting the gowk” usually with a sealed message reading
“Dinna laugh, dinna smile. Hunt the gowk another mile”.
The poor messenger is being sent from person to person becoming the gawk, a word used for cuckoo bird which symbolizes the fool.
In UK the prank is only being pulled by midday, the person playing the prank after that becoming the April Fools himself.
In Italy, France, Belgium, The Netherlands or French speaking nations around the world this day is called Poisson d’Avril, rooted in the 16th century with its change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. A paper fish is placed on people’s back symbolizing an easy catch, a gullible person.
Did you know?
Sugrophobia is the “fear of being suckered, tricked”, from “sugro” Latin for “to suck”.
Do’s and Don’ts on April Fool’s
Do plan ahead
Do help your little ones if they want to plan a prank but use your common sense
Do know the chemical substances you want to use
Do keep your hoax within moral limits
Do tell it’s an April Fool’s hoax as soon as you’re being asked
Do team up with your office mates
Do have fun and, remember, what goes around comes around
Don’t play the joke on your little children or your pets
Don’t resign as a joke
Don’t let a prank carry on for too long. It’s only fun if everybody is having fun.
Don’t experiment with potentially hazardous substances
Five of the best April Fool’s Hoaxes in history
Prank Robbery, South Africa, 1952 Four masked men entered a Stellenbosch bank and aimed water pistols at the staff shouting, “This is a holdup. Hand over the cash!” The alarm went off and the men threw the cash back, shouting “April Fool” then fled the scene in a car.
Spaghetti Harvest, UK, 1957 BBC broadcasted a three-minute segment featured a family from Switzerland carrying out their annual spaghetti harvest, picking strands of spaghetti from a tree and laying them in the sun to dry. Time was of essence as a sudden change in weather could impact on the flavor of the spaghetti. This was 1957 when spaghetti was still an exotic delicacy in UK. Some viewers called in asking where they could get their own spaghetti bushes.
A new island in the Indian Ocean, UK, 1977
The British newspaper The Guardian runs a special seven-page report about a newly discovered nation in a remote part of the Indian Ocean called San Serriffe, with the capital Bodoni and ruled by General Pica. The republic’s two main islands are named Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse and on an aerial view they look just like a semi-colon. The hoax was a huge success, with only a few people spotting that all the terminology was named after printers’ lingo.
Google Translate for Animals, 2000
In 2000 Google claimed they had come up with a new app called Google Translate for Animals. The app could decipher what your pet was barking, mewing, grunting or cheeping about. It also supplied a video that has been seen nearly 2 million times.
Water Runways for airplanes, South Africa, 2012
Kulula Airline announces that selected airports, Cape Town, Durban and soon, Hartebeespoort Dam in Gauteng will soon be operating water runways in an attempt to “curb rising airport traffic congestion and high airport taxes.” The departing gate will now be called a departing pier and instead of buses, the passengers will be ferried to the planes by water shuttles.
Take me to Croatia on the 21st of March! I only need 12 hours. I need this time to feed my soul and my body; poetry for the soul, coffee for the body. And if not Croatia, then fly me to Turkey, UK or Romania!
On this day only one can pay with a poem for one’s cup of coffee.
Would you do it?
Did you know that one in five people believe poetry is for professional writers only?
Poetry excites the mind and enlightens the soul. You could say: “Whoa, Babe, poetry ahead!” or “Yay! Poetry!” Either way your eye acknowledged it and your mind engaged with it and your heart, most probably, slowed down its pace. “I know this”, it pulsed. “It is my language.” Because poetry is the universal language of our hearts.
Pay With A PoemDay is a fresh, new approach on literature. In 1999 UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) declared March 21 World Poetry Day, celebrating writing, publishing, reading and teaching of poetry worldwide, as UNESCO says, to give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional and international poetry movements.
Pay With A PoemDay has been initiated in 2013 by the Viennese manufacturer and coffee retailer Julius Meinl and all participating coffee sites are supported by a global campaign. If not lucky enough to be in a participating country on the 21st of March, you can follow it on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtags #PayWithAPoem and #PoetryForChange.
“Readers are leaders”, said one great teacher; leaders of their own lives. Being able to understand what is expected of us beyond our job description or mastering those psychometric tests in a job interview could be life changing situations. Turning that first date into a success or having the ability to understand (and survive) our partner’s emotional needs are, definitely, lifesaving situations. What all of these occasions call for are our wits and… empathy. So relax; you’re not the odd one out if, at times, you feel for your boss. You should be celebrating instead.
South Africa’s official submission to the 89th Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film category was Noem My Skollie (Call Me Thief) directed by AFDA Alumni Daryne Joshua and his film debut as well.
1989 (the 62nd Academy Awards Ceremony) – Mapantsula (Zulu, Afrikaans, Sesotho, English), Director Oliver Schmitz – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film. It appeared on the official AMPAS ( Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ) press release in 1989 but not on the 2007 updated list. Therefore Paljas is considered as South Africa’s official first submission in the Best Foreign Language Film category. It is possible that Mapantsula, although submitted,has not been screened for the Foreign Film committee for some reason.
1997 – Paljas (Afrikaans) – Director Katinka Heyns – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film
2003 – Charlize Theron (a Benoni born South African and American actress and film producer ) – WON Best Actress, the first South African to ever win an Oscar, for Monster
I’m going to thank everybody in South Africa, my home country… And my mom.
2003 – Ronald Harwood (Cape Town-born playwright) – WON for Best Adapted Screenplay, The Pianist Harwood’s love for the theatre and films started when he was a child and his mother took him to the theatre in Cape Town.
2004 – Yesterday (the first ever feature-length isiZulu film), Director Darrell Roodt – Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film
2005 – Charlize Theron – Nominated for Best Actress, North Country
2005 (78th Academy Awards Ceremony) – Tsotsi – WON Best Foreign Language Film. It was the first non-French-language African film to win in this category
Gavin Hood’s Oscar acceptance speech for Tsotsi, which he directed:
Nkosi sikelele Africa. God bless Africa.
Our stories … are about the human heart and emotion.
2008 – Jerusalema (Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Sotho), Director Ralph Ziman – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film
2009 – White Wedding (Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, English), Director Jann Turner – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film
2010 – District 9, Director Neill Blomkamp (South African–Canadian film director, film producer, screenwriter, and animator) – Nominated for Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay (Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell)
2010 – Life, Above All (in Northern Sotho), Director Oliver Schmitz – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film, made the January Shortlist. Life, Above All received 10-minutes standing ovations at its world premiere at the 63rd Cannes International Film Festival.
2011 – Beauty (Afrikaans), Director Oliver Hermanus – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film
2012 – Herbert Kretzmer (South African-born English journalist and lyric writer) – Nominated for Best Music, Original Song for Les Misérables, song “Suddenly” (together with Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg)
2012 – Little One (Zulu), Director Darrell Roodt – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film
2013 – Four Corners (Afrikaans), Director Ian Gabriel – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film
2014 – Elelwani (Venda), Director Ntshavheni wa Luruli – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film
2015 – Margaret Sixel (South African-born, Australian film editor ) – WON Best Film Editing, Mad Max: Fury Road
2015 – The Two of Us (Zulu), Director Ernest Nkosi – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film
2016 (89th Academy Awards Ceremony) – Noem My Skollie (Call Me Thief), (Afrikaans), Director Daryne Joshua – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film.
Noem My Skollie producer, Moshidi Motshegwa, said referring the support the cast and crew received at home :
The greatest affirmation an artist can get is from their own tribe. We are ecstatic to have this affirmation!
The Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film was first awarded in 1956. For its 89th edition there have been 85 submissions from all over the world.
Although South Africa hasn’t brought an Oscar home this year what really matters are the passion and dedication of each actor, director, make-up artist, costume designer, editor, of the entire crew backing-up a motion picture which puts South Africa, proudly, on the Academy Awards map once again.
Even though two people speak the same language, having come from different cultures, their understanding of the spoken language will be different.
An American, a Frenchmen and a Chinese, all owners of smartphones, found themselves in a locked room. Can you guess the outcome? No, really, this happened to me. Except that I was neither of them, belonging to a fourth nationality, the Romanian born South African.
Ah, South Africa! The “Rainbow Country”! The nation with 11 official languages where people from numerous cultural backgrounds live together in harmony and peace. Apart from the local Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho and Tswana to name but a few, we have Afrikaners, Portuguese, British, French, Dutch, Greeks, Italians, Romanians, and the list goes on and on. And no, we don’t communicate with each other in Esperanto but in English, mainly.
So what happened in this 21st century locked room mystery?
What are the consequences of bringing together folks from different cultural backgrounds during a dinner event in today’s modern times?
People using their smartphones throughout the course of the evening to send messages, connect to social media sites, surf the web or even play games; two out of five adults at my table, three out of seven at a nearby table, with various adults at neighboring tables joining them. And I doubt they were texting each other…
While I did my best to follow the proceedings of the evening a bothersome question nestled itself in my mind. Why would 20%-30% of educated individuals, coming from an array of cultural backgrounds, choose to ignore all rules of social mobile etiquette? What possessed them?
I believe that, leaving all social protocol aside, there are two theories behind this situation.
1. The intercultural theory
People from different cultural backgrounds for whom English is not the first language, when communicating in English will lose important cognitive information, thus being in danger of drifting off and losing interest on the information presented.
Lost in translation
In other words, when two people coming from different cultural backgrounds and for whom English is not their mother tongue listen to an English sentence each one will perceive, will absorb and will relate to it in a different way; the information it carries being filtered through the listener’s own cultural background.
This is similar to the color perception theory which says that when two people look at the same color they will see two different shades of it, but they will never know how the two shades differ, or what shade precisely the other one perceived.
So many words, so little time
Fact: statistics show that out of 7 billion people in the world, 1,500 million speak English, of whom only 375 million are native speakers. That’s 21.4% English speakers in the world and only 5.36% English native. For the rest of 20% English speakers English is not their first language.
Research also shows that in the United States there is an increase in the decision non-English natives make to use their mother tongue at home, as opposed to English.
2. The technological theory
Living in the über-technological 21st century the use of one’s smartphone has evolved from need to compulsion. The smartphone isn’t a utility anymore, but an addiction. We don’t watch nature anymore, we take pictures of it. We don’t experience the Supermoon, we view it through our phone’s screen instead. We attend a live event, yet we look at it through our mobile screen, detaching ourselves from real life, extracting ourselves from present.
Putting things into perspective as opposed to living them
Let’s not point fingers yet, as each generation’s digital inclination will translate into a greater easiness for the following one in the use of digital technology as a learning tool. This means less paper used, less trees cut, more oxygen and less greenhouse effect, yes, one has to put things into perspective.
Fact: globally, in one second: there are 7 368 Tweets sent, 745 Instagram photos uploaded, 1 166 Tumbler posts, 2 300 Skype calls, 38 579 GB internet traffic, 56 616 Google searches, 132 753 YouTube videos watched, 252 9486 emails sent, 67% of which are spam.
Mobile phones are IN and they’re here to stay.
Now let’s take a closer look at these two theories.
1. An in depth look at the intercultural theory: living the dream or a cultural migration?
In a world in which political barriers are falling (the Berlin Wall in 1989, Communism in Russia and eastern Europe, the Arab spring), economic barriers are falling (the introduction of the Euro currency in 2002 and countries joining the EU group in 2004 and after) or are being rebuilt (Brexit, 2016), people choose or find themselves forced to live outside their natural geographic barriers, migrating or emigrating.
It is the birth of the cultural diversity and we live it.
Still, no matter how many barriers we remove, other barriers fall in place. How and why are these new walls influencing our lives?
Why are we faced with cultural barriers in communication?
We all share ideas, beliefs, traditions and rituals – to some extent. What differentiates an individual from the next are the bits and bobs that have been handed down by past generations. These form our national, ethnic, religious self, through which we filter the outside world to, eventually, understand it and interpret it. It is our culture; it helps us understand the reality, make it our own and thus finding our place in the world. It is what makes us feel “at home” on an emotional level.
Everything we’ve inherited from our parents and from our immediate community will shape the way in which we understand and cope with reality. The culture inherited through our mother-tongue especially, as it is our second skin, our air bubble, our personalized atmosphere. It reshapes our brain thus filtering the way we perceive the reality. It influences our thoughts and behaviors, because different languages have different social realities. Even though two people speak the same language, having come from different cultures with different mother tongues, their perceptions and understanding of the spoken language will be different.
Culture as an air bubble
Take the Americans, for example. They’re used to communicate freely. Germans are known to be direct, Hispanics love physical closeness during a conversation, while for Indians being indirect while they communicate with each other is a way of life.
This is why cultural diversity can cause people speaking the same language to distance from each other; not on a physical level, but an emotional one. The culture we grew in will influence the way we think and communicate with others, our expectations and, at times, these factors can become barriers.
Think of the expat communities formed all over the world, the China-Towns, the Russian congregations, the Spanish communities or the Harlem. People share a need to be among like-minded, like-cultural, like-mother-tongue speakers. Among people who think along the same principles, share the same humor and understand the subtitles of each other’s body language. (The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, 1958-69)
Example: Time as it is viewed by different cultures
Think of the word “time” and its English connotation. We associate it with “money” therefore we say that time can be “spent”, “saved”, “wasted” or “invested”. This linear vision of time is shared by the Anglo-Saxon world and the same goes for the Swiss, which turned precision and being on time into a national symbol. For them, time is an abstract commodity valued by what one CAN DO with it before it runs out. It is also a source of constant stress. Hurry, it ticks.
Now think of the southern and eastern Europeans, the Italians, Portuguese, Turks or Arabs. For them, WHOM you share your time with is much more important that the passing of the time itself. Finishing a conversation happening in present time is more important than cutting it short because of being late for a future appointment. Because “now” I share my time with you; now is enjoyable, therefore it is more important than a forthcoming appointment. To them, time is a personal commodity valued by HOW IS one enjoying it – therefore not worrying since there is plenty of it anyway; time stretches out ad infinitum. Relax, it pulses.
For Asians, time goes around in a CIRCLE. Time must be observed from all perspectives before deciding which tasks are important and which ones needn’t worry about. At the same time, the other person’s time is seen as more valuable than their own time. To them, FOLLOWING TRADITIONS is more important than the actual passing of time. Think & meditate, it hums.
But be it American, Italian or Chinese, time and the way one relates to it, understands it and refers to it has a specific meaning, passed through generations and through their mother tongue; filtered by their culture.
2. Looking at the technological theory: living in the über-connected 21st century
Today’s younger generation is the first one ever not to know what life was like without a cellphone.
While our generation, the 40’s something, *grin*, is the last one to have experiencing life with a corded phone. A fixed phone with a rotating disc and a receiver attached to the phone by a spiral cord. And a chair nearby for those long distance conversations that could only happen at home, at work or in a phone booth – but in no other place. And, yes, some of these conversations were kept private and for good reason. Our generation is the last one to be able to tell stories about the neighbor’s ebonite phone resonating “tir-tir, tir-tir” all the way from the upstairs’ apartment.
Only 500 years ago the Renaissance Man was both a scientist and an artist, a mathematician and an astronomer; an all-rounded scholar. His thirst for knowledge was insatiable. But knowledge had to be investigated and conquered. The reward had to wait.
Nowadays our neophilia, our need for novelty, is but a click away, a swipe of finger across the screen; right at our fingertips, rewarding in its promptitude but also exhaustingly hyper-stimulating.
It is normal for the human race to crave rewards. Rewards are what fuels progress and humans have a physical need to experience rewards because they release dopamine in our brains. Whenever a pleasurable experience happens, a surge of dopamine, a neural chemical, is being released into our brain. We feel good and as a result we want to repeat the behavior. And the “dopamine pathway” is being reinforced. But drugs or other activities which produce instant pleasure, like over-texting, hijack this pathway becoming addictive.
Mobile phones, a reward or an addiction?
We post a comment and we get a Like. Happy! What’s our brain thinking? I’ll do it again! Click, click, click – happy, happy, happy!
We have a question, do a quick internet search and find the information needed. Happy! “Cool, new stuff,” thinks Brain! “Let’s do this again, soon!”
It’s easy to understand why over-texting and neophilia can be seen as a reward, thus becoming addictive.
Is it really this simple or is there MORE to over texting? Are we all the same, being conditioned in the same ways or is there MORE to it? A silent, underlying layer.
Example: Over-texting and its real life implications
A 2010 study done by scientists at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine on texting habits of 4 257 high school students discovered that 20% of them were over texting (sending over 120 texts/day). These teenagers were termed as “hyper-texters”. Teenagers who spent three or more hours/day on social networking sites were termed as “hyper-networking”. Study showed that the “hyper-texters” were twice more likely to have tried alcohol, 41% more likely to have used illegal drugs, and 3 and half times more likely to have had sex. Think it’s a lot? Wait, the “hyper-networkers” were at an even higher risk.
Today’s younger generation is fully immersed in social media and technology. But they are also the first generation to suffer a decline in face-to-face communication. The first generation to be disconnected from real life… because they are connected to an electronic device. A generation of faces lit in the dark only by the screen of a cell phone, the “glow kids” as Dr Nicholas Kardaras Executive Director of the Dunes, one of the world’s top rehabs, calls them.
It is a mobile-social generation on the rise, but with a worrying decline in social skills.
Warning: the physical social disconnection caused by over-connection to social media had been linked to an increase in depression cases across teens and adult in present days compared to 1980.
The mobile phone relationship: are you ready to go steady?
Look at your cell phone. How often do you use it? How much do you rely on it? Was it by choice or not? Are our mobile phones available to us OR are we available to them because we never switch them off? Ask yourself, who’s using who?
In the present world, with information and communication so easily accessible, with 9/10 American owning a cell phone (2015) are we really the owners of this advanced technology-or is IT owning us?
Cell phones are hugely utile and they give us freedom, but at the same time they enslave us, tying us to our social contact lists. We feel that we can’t postpone replying to a message because we see the sender shows online and we know that he, too, can see us online. We can’t leave the work issues at work-they come following us, beep-ing from the bedside table in the middle of the night or over the weekend.
Our mobile phone’s constant availability is no longer an advantage but a social expectation as our contacts assume we’re at their disposal 24/7 and, to be honest, so do we of them. In 2015 90% of Americans frequently carried their cell phone with them! No wonder a mobile phone has more germs on it than a toilet seat.
But our “mobile” availability has become a constant source of stress too. What freed us has also enslaved us.
The palpable reality is: our mobile phones own us. Sounds like the title of a B-rated horror movie, isn’t it? “Owned by the Mobile Phone!” *evil laugh*
What’s worse is that we are constantly being programmed to depend on our mobile devices. What are the chances of you landing a good job without owning a cell phone? What are the chances of making an emergency phone call without a cell phone? In 2015, 43% of American adults lived in a cellphone-only household.
Cell phones are a benediction and a spell. An instant connection and an endless interference.
Surfing the technological wave
So, is over cellphone usage an addiction, a mere social behavior or just part of the 21st century?
The number of world’s cell phone owners is expected to exceed 5 billion by 2019, siting at 4.61 billion in 2016. A PEW research conducted by Andrew Perrin shows that in 2015 90% of American young adults (ages 18 to 29) used social media compared to only 35% in the 65 years and older group. Internationally the numbers are comparable with the Germans leading by 86% followed by Britain with 81%, and France with 78% of their young adults using social networking sites and only 8% of adults over the age of 50 years old (16% in Britain, 13% in France), as shown in a 2010 PEW research.
The inter-cultural communication can raise barriers but it can also be an opportunity for opening ourselves to new view-points, new prospects, and more harmony in the world.
How to overcome the cultural distance
Actively, willingly, by making an active effort of understanding each other and the cultural direction we both arrive from. By accepting that there might be a difference of view, yet willingly trying to understand in what this difference consists.
Emotionally, by being emphatic towards one another and choosing to overcome stereotypes. By actively understanding and being prepared to open ourselves to the other’s culture.
Academically, by choosing to be present in the moment and absorb the information we are being offered.
Marco Polo lived among the Chinese, absorbed their culture and brought back invaluable lessons and inventions. Christopher Columbus inaugurated centuries of European exploration in the Americas.
In the long run, is the social connectivity really paying off?
British anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar, now teaching at Magdalen College Oxford, is the author of How Many Friends Does One Person Need? Dunbar said: “We’re members of the primate family – and within the primates there is a general relationship between the size of the brain and the size of the social group. There are social circles beyond it and layers within – but there is a natural grouping of 150.”
A person can only have 150 acquaintances, but ONLY 5 close relationships. Because it is more difficult, although more significant and extremely rewarding to have fewer close relationships then lots of online followers.
Because, how Dundar puts it, “we actually have to get together to make a relationship work. In the end, we rely heavily on touch and we still haven’t figured out how to do virtual touch. Maybe once we can do that we will have cracked a big nut. Words are slippery; a touch is worth a 1,000 words any day.”
Okay, you don’t have to hug your boss
Dunbar goes further with his explanations and this is something each new parent discovers, sooner or later… the sooner the better. Pick up a crying baby and chances are he will stop crying if you keep holding him, caressing him. And no, you’re not spoiling him.
The same principle is valid for human relationships.
The mammal’s skin has a huge amount of neurons that respond to light touch, but not to any other kind of touch. Light stroking triggers endorphins, also responsible for our happiness by reducing pain and stress. In the dolphin world, calves brush their bodies against their mothers, this helping to strengthen their bond as well as their social ties. The same result happens when primates groom each other. Humans are mammals too.
Sadly, as yet, social media does not include touch therefore it is not real human bonding. It has the opposite effect, destroying the natural paths of human interaction of which touch and physical contact are important – creating the “illusion” of connection.
But everybody’s doing it
Texting during meetings or social events, chasing up Likes and Followers on social media, yes, everybody’s doing it. Just remember that YOU are an individual. Like your mom always told you: “If your friends jump off a cliff, would you jump too?!”
Humanity survived and moved forward for over two millennia without the interference of mobile technology. Yet only twenty years of cellphone usage has already produced its first generation of possible social failures.
The way forward is by retracing the steps of history, learning from mistakes and bettering ourselves.
Change begins now
The question that lies ahead of all of us is: has the moment when we need to learn from these past 20 years of mobile technology mistakes arrived yet? Is it NOW that we must remind ourselves we are humans and technology is but a tool invented by us, to use as WE please-and not vice-versa?
And no, the answer to this question does not lies at the end of a search engine. *wink*
10 Enchanting Christmas and Bedtime Books for Babies and Young Readers
When my daughter was six month old I began reading to her “The Little Duckling.” We would cuddle together every day and enjoy the little bird’s adventures of bravery. It was a magical time for me and for my daughter as well. Later on she would look excited just seeing this book!
My son loved the touch and feel story of a puppy. It was a board book and, no matter how hard I tried, he would always put it in his mouth. I guess that’s what board books are for! He loved the touch of the puppy’s fur on the cover and, mostly, having his family around him at story time.
Later on I would read to both my children Enid Blyton’s “The Faraway Tree” and to this day my teen children remember the warm, fuzzy evenings and the big book we shared and delighted in together.
I’ve got to be quiet; I’ve got to lie still. They didn’t put me in a corner, but they did give me… time out. Only inside…
It was because of shredding the newspaper to bits on Sunday morning… and bumping over the trash can in the kitchen, which spilled the garbage…
I only tried to clean up!
Oh, and for scratching Mom’s bedroom door. But I tried to get in! It was a matter of life and death! It was past breakfast time and everybody was still sleeping!
I’m in the hallway now, on the carpet. This one is a rough carpet, not soft like the one in our bedroom. It tickles my tummy. I’ve got to scratch.
But I’ve got to sit still.
Oh, the carpet itches. My tummy itches.
“Sit still, puppy!” Mom had said…
But I’ve got an itch. Just one scratch?
Quick, while nobody’s watching.
“The umbrella stand?! Whatever next?!”
I lay flat on the carpet. I wish I could melt in it and disappear.
I really didn’t, didn’t, didn’t want to bump it over!
It was just an itch.
A big itch and I’m a small puppy.
I’ve got to be quiet; I’ve got to lie still.
Now I’m outside.
Time out SHOULD take place outside? It only makes sense.
Mom hasn’t told me to sit still; she just opened the door and pointed outside. But I want to. To show her I’m a good puppy.
What does a good puppy do? I wonder if my friend Mole knows. He seems to know so much… There he is! He’s always busy digging. He’s such a good digger, he keeps all the plants fresh, Mom’s flowers pretty.
Mom loves flowers.
Maybe that’s what I should do! Pick some flowers for her. Dad brought her flowers last week and she was so happy she danced!
If I should make her so happy she’ll forget all about being upset with me!
I’ll do it! For Mom!
Here, a mouthful of flowers for Mom; freshly picked!
They did got a bit squashed in the process, but it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?
“Mom, my puppy’s barking outside the door! Can I please let him in now? I’m sure he learned his lesson.”
“Puppy!! My flowers! And LOOK at ALL this mud! PUPPY!”
I love it during my sleep for I can smell my human pup cuddled tight against me. She smells of milk and of love, the stuff sweet dreams are made of.
I love my new place in the moments just before I wake up, when the aroma of freshly cooked breakfast creeps through under the door and through the keyhole, conquering our bedroom. What better way to start the day but knowing what sorts of scraps will fly off the table? And if I catch the titbits before Mother ever sees us I get a pat and a scratch behind my ear for showing such super skills! For it is against the house rules to feed me like this, but my human pup loves me so much she shares everything with me.
I share with my human pup too.
My new place comes with a big yard, so big that if I run all around once my tongue spills out of my mouth in search of water, so tired I am. It took me a few whole mornings to sniff all around it and learn it off by heart.
At its far end, by the corner of the fence, my new friend lives, Mr. Mole. He likes to dig tunnels through the ground and to share his wiggly worms with me. Nobody seems to feed him so I share some of my tasty morsels with him. I hope he likes them; he keeps on burying them into his tunnels.
It was here that I found the biggest, juiciest worm!
It made me remember my human pup and her toes. Mother calls them wiggly worms and she keeps on counting them each night at bedtime. I thought how she would laugh to discover an extra one! Would she be able to tell the difference? I thought not; they smelled the same to me.
That night I found out that…
Mothers can scream VERY loud.
I still want to make my human Mother laugh; when she does so she smells so much more of love. I’ll have to find something else to share next time.