What would Mrs. Piggle Wiggle do?
Absolutely one of my favorite things about homeschooling is the feast of words which we are indulging in together daily. We are discovering old books from discard piles and thrift stores that hold magical, rich stories with all sorts of vocabulary words that sometimes I don’t even know how to say. Today we’ve logged over three hours of reading aloud together or the kids reading their books to me.
Yesterday we finished Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald. I remember reading her when I was young, it in fact is older than my mother even, written in 1947. Now reading it as a parent my perspective is so different. The kids were so tickled listening that I couldn’t even get them to pick a favorite chapter, they found them all so funny! I think the most laughs came from the “Answer-Backer Cure” chapter when the cure was that the sassy girl who talked back to everyone had to live with a snappy parrot who was even ruder and more disrespectful than she was. It was easy for me though to pick a favorite paragraph, let me share…
It certainly was fortunate for Patsy’s mother that she thought of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, because although Mrs. Piggle Wiggle has no children of her own and lives in an upside down house, she understands children better than anybody in the whole world. She is always ready to stop whatever she is doing and have a tea party. She is glad to have children dig worms in her petunia bed. She has a large trunk of scraps for doll clothes and another large truck full of valuable rocks with gold in them. She is delighted to have children pick up and look at all the little things which she keeps on her tables and when Hubert Prentiss dropped the glass ball that snowed on the children when you shook it, she said “Heavens, Hubert, don’t cry. I’m so glad this happened. For years and years I have wanted to know what was in that glass ball.” Mrs. Piggle Wiggle takes it for granted that you will want to try on her shoes and go wiggling around on high heels.
There are rich parenting gems in there I believe, the one that stopped me in my tracks was that she was always ready to stop whatever she was doing for a tea party. It is the easiest thing in the world to go about the day, do the tasks at hand and miss the little sweet moments of actual, purposeful interaction with our children. I am constantly reminding myself of this and taking note of time spent with each one.
The no-nonsense, reality-based discipline of Dr. Kevin Leeman is what came to mind as I read this book to my kids. It made me want to dig out the book I read by him last year “Making Your Children Mind without Losing Yours“. His basic premise is that parents need to let reality teach kids the consequences of life.
While Mrs. Piggle Wiggle address’ many common ‘ailments’ of childhood like kids who won’t bath, kids who fight with their siblings or kids who take too long to eat – I want to know what she would prescribe as the remedy for “Binky-itis” for my 3 1/2 year old boy who is absolutely, interminably in love with his binky. It’s not in the book sadly. And I’m starting to wonder if he’ll be taking his binky to college…with a dreadful overbite to go with.