Yesterday was Dr. Seuss‘s birthday and for most of us, both as parent and child, Seuss was someone to be celebrated for bringing so much joy, imagination, insights and special moments whether it was bonding with our children, our parents or simply ourselves. Personal faves for me were The Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Skeetches, Horton the Elephant (loyal 100%), Green Eggs ‘n Ham; The Lorax (now a new animated must see film starring Danny Devito, Zac Efron and Taylor Swift which shows how Seuss was an environmentalist way before it was trendy) and Yertle the Turtle.
Whatever your fave, Dr. Seuss took us through our childhood with life lessons and an imagination that just won’t quit and stands the test of time. For me, as a young new reader I could read and look at his illustrations over and over, but Yertle the Turtle was one that holds a special place in my heart. It was about Yertle the Turtle who went from King of the bees and trees to King of the Mud due to a turtle named Mack whom brought him down to earth with a burp.
Written in 1958 it was about power and freedom. But when I was little I had a special kinship with Yertle since the only pets my mother allowed me to have were those that didn’t run nor have any chance of doing their business on her pristine beige living room rug . And, god forbid we did cross that line…my mother’s wrath we would incite. But one fateful night when my parents went out my big brother Rick and I decided to throw caution to the wind and enter the DNC zone. For that moment in time it was exhilarating and the carpeting beneath our feet was sooo soft since no one that we could remember had ever stepped foot on it…We made designs, played tic tac toe and then my bro decided to get really wild. He jumped on the beige satin couch which like the carpeting we were sure had never had any human interaction. Ahhhh what fun, what freedom and the cushions didn’t even show a dent since they had indeed never been sat on! Time ticking before mamma would return, we needed to erase our tracks. So i raced to get the trusty Hoover out to replicate my mother’s up and down perfect nap design…Then off to bed we went sure we’d restored all to their pristine state….
Next morning as Rick and i munched on a bowl of cereal smiling betwixt ourselves that we had gotten away with our ‘escapade’ my mother asked how our evening was. Rather then ragging about how he had to sit for his little sis vs being with his friends, my brother said “great”! The cat so to speak was out of the bag as my mother confronted us on our trespass. See though we thought we had done a great job emulating her perfect vac design we had missed a spot. And the rest how we say was misery. You see my mom at times was a cross betwixt Joanne Crawford in the classic movie “Mommy Dearest” and Bride of Frankenstein so we were doomed.
Dare I say never again did Rick nor I venture into the Living Room until she finally replaced that beige carpeting with area rugs that didn’t show nuttin…And the couch still looks the same as it did 30 years ago and is in the Guinness Book of Jerry Seinfeld Records since no one other then my bro has sat on it still. Now back to why I loved Seuss’ tale of Yertle…
Since i couldnt have pets that pooped nor peeed anywhere then in their own space, I had ‘Goldy’ the goldfish who lived a record four years, and the closest thing to a pet i could walk, Mack…my pet turtle. I named him after the turtle that ‘burped’ and brought Yertle the Turtle back to earth. And though i didn’t put him on a leash for fear of ”accidentally’ strangling him I did take him out of his tank for walks on my green and white shag rug (which didn’t show footprints nor dirt LOL). I would also read to him this Dr. Seuss tale and share why I named him Mack…Hey as an 7 year old I believed Mack understood what I said whether his head was in or out of his shell. My kingdom was Mack and all he could see. And, when Mack and I were together we were free that and much later in life free thanks to 3 years of intense therapy 🙂
“And today the great Yertle, that Marvelous he,
Is King of the Mud. That is all he can see.
And the turtles, of course . . . all the turtles are free
As turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.”
Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss and thank you for making my early years and those with my son special! Spread the Glove!