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Monday, July 9, 2007

Color Kittens

I'm always fascinated to see which books BJ latches on to. Some months ago, it was Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3. Eating the Alphabet has been a longtime favorite, as I've mentioned. For the past two days, it has been The Color Kittens. He is even trying to read it by himself!

What's especially interesting is how he seems to be processing some major concepts as we read. He gets repeatedly upset at the part in the book where the kittens go to sleep. And in all that brown, the sun went down, and the colors began to disappear in the warm dark night. "You want the colors to come again!" he'll wail. (He's still working on the you & I pronoun distinction.) He's seriously upset at the notion that the colors would no longer be there, even though they show up again on the very next pages.

I wonder: what, exactly, is he processing here? Mortality? Interesting to note that the other book he's really into these days is Cat Heaven . We're trying to prep him a bit because one of our beloved kitties has been diagnosed with bone cancer and probably will die very soon. We've been careful not to overdo it, and I don't think he's overheard any conversations about Socks dying, but he's an observant child and a careful listener so it's hard to say.

I wish I could have met Margaret Wise Brown. She's given the world such an amazing gift with her children's books. If you believe (as I do) that words have power, it just blows the mind to ponder how many times her words have been read aloud, how many parents know the words to Goodnight Moon by heart -- how many children have drifted into dreamland with those words. It is the best kind of magic, I think, to weave words into a spell as masterfully as she does in her writing.

I don't need fame. (Or even want it, really.) But a wee morsel of that kind of magic would go a long way towards feeding my hungry muse. If during the course of my lifetime I could have tasted the true thing, even just a little bit, I would count myself content.

But back to BJ. He's so funny: he's decided I'm Mama Hush and he's BJ Brush. (Hush and Brush are the two kitten characters in the book.) We've read The Color Kittens at least a dozen times in the last two days, and I have no idea why he suddenly decided it was the book to read. After we read it twice yesterday, he asked for "special Mommy and BJ time painting!"

He's finally gotten to where he'll fingerpaint without fuss. Used to be he'd get all squicked because his fingers got dirty in the process. Now, so long as he has a way to wash his hands whenever he wants to (which is frequently), he's happy. Hence the yellow bucket. I think he was just as happy watching paint flecks float in the water as he was smooshing colors around on the paper.

Until this morning, I didn't fully realize how important his creations are to him. (Until this morning, I doubted he even remembered making them from one day to the next.) But as soon as he woke up, he wanted to see the pictures he'd made the day before. "You see all the colors again! Again!" he insisted. I think he feared that they had disappeared, like in the book. I had to carry him out in pajamas and bare feet into the backyard and show him where I'd left the paintings to dry. He had to get down and physically touch them before he'd even think about sitting down to breakfast.

I'm so glad I didn't have to dig them out of the trash! I'd actually contemplated balling them up and tossing them when we had finished, since until now he's never seemed to care too much about his drawings or paintings. But for some reason I remembered what my mom had said the last time they were visiting. After they'd painted together, I went to throw away the papers, and she said, "Don't let him see you do that. It will make him think what he makes doesn't matter."

It matters.

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