Annika (and I) has been a big Dr. Seuss fan since she has been old enough to follow along with a book. Her first ever ever favorite book was The Foot Book. I kind of miss reading that one to her, even though, at the time, I wished that she enjoyed the more complex ones like Green Eggs and Ham. (Nope, I am never happy. The grass is ALWAYS greener.)
But lately, she’s been on a Song of the Zubblewump kick. Song of the Zubblewump isn’t technically Dr. Seuss, since it’s just a book about the characters from his books, not actually written by him. But she still likes it.
It’s also been the source of her first realization that people can be called names when you don’t like something they are doing. (I have already told her that it’s not okay to call people names, but we make exceptions for politicians.)
The story’s protagonist, Megan Mullally, is impatiently awaiting a Zubble-wump egg to hatch. When the Grinch sneaks in a steals it the night before, she goes after him to get her egg back.
As the story meanders along, the Grinch gets called several names, among them, a “rotten green bean.”
Whenever we get to this part, Annika shrieks with laughter.
And she’s been using it.
At first, it was all in fun. Then last week, we went to have dinner at an outdoor cafe with some friends. While we were eating, Annika and her little friend began playing nearby some 4-year-old boys.
The boys weren’t being all that bad, but they were 4. And they began doing things the girls didn’t like, one of them being, to throw dirt in their direction, not maliciously, but still, close enough to annoy the girls.
After a couple of rounds of telling them to stop, Annika and her friend became more agitated. Annika began yelling at the boys and telling them she did not like that they were throwing dirt at her and her friend.
Then the name calling began.
“You rotten green beans!” She shrieked. I don’t think the boys paid any attention, to them, that probably wasn’t much of an insult.
But I knew where she had gotten it and I pulled her aside to tell her that name-calling wasn’t appropriate.
It was then that I realized that the color inside the insult had more of an impact on her derision.
“But, but Mama, that boy…. that boy….”she sputtered. “That WHITE boy threw dirt at ME!”