jen groeber: mama art

4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.

Thank You, Dr. Suess

I’m terrible at thank yous. I mean, I’m not bad at saying them. I say thank you all the time, like every time the waiter refills my glass of water at a restaurant and I drink a lot of water. But “thank yous” of the birthday-presents-Christmas-presents-dinner-party kind?

The stamps! The address! Writing something that captures my gratitude?! Ugh!

suess.books

So here is a long-overdue thank you.

Dear Theodore Geisel, a.k.a. Theo. LeSieg, a.k.a. Dr. Suess,

I owe you a thank you for all that you’ve done

for teaching me to read and making it fun,

for writing books I discovered when I was a kid,

that I can read to my kids like my mother never did.

 

But you did so much more than teach me to read

You fed me some thoughts, you planted the seed

The Sneetches? How brilliant, I was instantly hooked.

The Sneetches was my first diversity book!

cabot.sneetches

 

And Gertrude McFuzz? Pure feminist genius

Teaching us to see ourselves how others have seen us!

Rereading of Horton, hearing his Who,

to my kids, I explained I was not really blue

That the tears in my eyes were the empathy kind

That rereading this treasure had me go back in my mind

To when and where I learned to be humble and true

to help others even if it really hurts you.

 

Sigh.

 

In a class at college where we wrote every night

assigned to mimic an author who brought us delight

I wrote my treacle the best that I could

in Suessian prose, although perhaps not what I should,

that Ivy-league TA said what I wrote was quite good

(even though it was about a boyfriend I’d had

and how the break-up had gone quite shamefully bad

what with him breaking us up and me only halfway dressed,

perhaps it needed the humor? But I digress!)

 

Also in college inducted into a secret “society”

amidst a night of mayhem and limited sobriety,

the dorkiest of hazing on the east coast

had us reciting Suess prose, blindfolded, in the form of a toast.

Ah, Suess. Although you were not in my wedding

Every bridesmaid toast I’ve made had tears a-shedding

as I whipped out my limited rhyming Suess skills

with stories of the bride’s yesteryear. And it always killed!

 

Now you had some real zingers, not least are the movies.

Creepy in the extreme, what terrible dooseys!

Jim Carrey as the Grinch, Mike Myers as the Cat?!

But post-humously, I guess you couldn’t help that.

Then there’s the latent racism in Mulberry Street

The chinamen and so on, I skip that rare treat

And Bartholomew Cubbins, the man with the hat?

And the beheader! The axe! Certain death?! I avoid that.

 

My mother said she met you once, how could this be?

She was a librarian. Imagine if you’d planted a seed… that’d be me!!

Ha, ha. Just kidding. She says you were a gent.

But in a way, you planted a seed in all of us. That’s what I meant.

 

You taught us good from evil, never fear what you don’t know

scary pants met in the woods, even as they glow,

fear us as much as us them. Yes, you told us so.

And people without bellies tatooed with stars

Are just the same as those with stars upon thars!

And Christmas is for kindness, sharing food and holding hands,

but not to hate the Grinch, he’s just a damaged, lost old man.

 

These books are not from simpler times, your time was complicated,

I look to see the copyright and when the book was dated.

I think you would have written now of blue wot-wots marrying blue,

and of how a blue wot-wot can beautifully turn pink, too.

 

So I wanted to thank you, with only very few exceptions,

for teaching me about loving kindness and neighborly redemption,

and for being a gift I can pass on to my own children dear,

hoping they find the beauty themselves, when they hear,

of Horton, Sneetches, Gertrude and so many, many more.

Thank you, Theodore Geisel. You, I just adore.

Be well,

jen

Reading Sneetches 2013

Reading Sneetches 2013

“We’ve GOT to make noises in greater amounts!

So, open your mouth, lad! For every voice counts!”

~Horton Hears a Who

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6 comments on “Thank You, Dr. Suess

  1. dvb415
    October 24, 2013

    Wow.

  2. dvb415
    October 24, 2013

    Simply amazing, Jen. So clever, meaningful, universal. Thank you

  3. dvb415
    October 24, 2013

    I just re-read this, but out loud this one time,
    To confirm my feeling that your writing is sublime.

  4. Margie S
    March 9, 2014

    So clever. Now that beats my talent for tongue rolling.

    • jgroeber
      March 18, 2014

      Ha! I feel another rhyme coming on soon. It always loosens the mind, am I right? 😉
      (And thanks!)

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