Do you know how some literature channels your perspective outward, forcing you to examine the world that you live in? It might challenge your assumptions about something outside of yourself and contribute to the way you view the world and your role in it.

Other books force you to look inward and examine your own self. They might cause you to question who you are and the way you relate to others. Sometimes realities about yourself become startlingly clear. This process, depending on the realities exposed, can be painful.

For me, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and its sequels (If You Give a Moose a Muffin, If You Give a Cat a Cupcake, etc.) are those very types of books. Painful.

“Aren’t those cute, humorous, little children’s books?” you might ask.

Sure. Sure, on the surface, yes. But for me these books are both dark and disturbing, and I will tell you why.

First of all, if you are not familiar with these books, let me give you a brief synopsis. All of the books follow the same simple story line. The main character (the mouse, the moose, the cat, etc.) is given an initial treat (a cookie, a muffin, a cupcake, what have you) that triggers a thought or a memory that leads to another desire, and another and another. It’s like one higgledy piggledy stream of consciousness leading the reader this way and that, thither and yon, over hill and dale and eventually back to where it all started. And then, presumably it starts all over again.

At the end everyone is exhausted and the place is a disaster.

I know these books are meant to be funny, and maybe a little ironic. My kids certainly love them. They howl with laughter at the silliness of it all while I squirm in my seat.

And why am I so uncomfortable reading these children’s books? Why do I not think them funny? Why?

Because they DESCRIBE MY LIFE TO A T!!

You parents out there know what I am talking about. Life with kids can be one long, higgledy piggledy stream of consciousness that leaves you exhausted and your place a mess.

Here is a real life example from this morning:

If you give a kid some breakfast

She will want a stuffed animal to keep her company

She will run upstairs to get one and notice the book we were reading last night

She will go to hide the book under her pillow for later

And remember her flashlight that she left in the basement

She will run down to the basement and see the toy kitchen

She will decide to make pretend eggs but will need construction paper to make them

She will run back up for construction paper and decide she needs glue and sparkles as well

While she is looking through the art cupboard…


You see what I mean? And this is all before school in the morning.

I know as well as anyone how delightful it can be to just follow your stream of consciousness. And I can see how observing someone else’s distracted meanderings can be humorous, BUT if you are charged with the difficult task of getting people fed, dressed, and out the door on time; if you are in charge of keeping a house in some modicum of order, than these stories are not as funny as they are excruciating.

For me, reading these books is like looking at a snapshot of myself first thing in the morning, before I have even had my coffee. I cringe and moan, “Good God, is that really me?!” And unfortunately the painful truth is yes. Yes, it is me.

I try to appear to the general public as someone who has it all under control, and I have actually duped some of my friends and neighbors (hooray for me!). But what my closest friends know about me, and I know about them, is that we are all just slaves to the higgledy piggledy ministrations of the small children who live in our homes and make them the confusing, messy, sometimes frustrating, magical places that they are.

And while I wouldn’t have it any other way, it still hurts to think about it sometimes. Like I said, this process, depending on the realities exposed, can be a bit painful.

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