When You Know Everything

Here is a story about how sure you are that
you're right, and then you find out something new and have to go
through that unpleasant process of realizing you were wrong, and it honestly hadn't seemed to you that that was possible, and it's
horribly embarrassing. This happens a lot to people who think they are
always right.

Back when the Elder was new, there was no the Younger, and all of
our books were board books or cloth, someone gave us a copy of The Runaway Bunny.


Our first (new) book had been the ubiquitous Goodnight, Moon; everything else we had was a holdover from our own childhoods. I
received (from whom? I know longer remember) The Runaway Bunny feeling
very pleased, because though I didn't remember Goodnight, Moon from my
own childhood (though I pretended to, because everyone talked about it
like it was something we all knew about), I loved it now, and figured
that this one would be great, too. I moved through the stiff boards, and was righteously (albeit, somewhat comically) horrified: "It's awful," I announced, whenever I happened to come upon it, to whomever happened
to be standing nearby. "I mean, 'If you become a fish in a trout
stream, I will become a fisherman, and I will fish for you.''??? Why
can't she just let the bunny do what it wants? God,
she just keeps running after him. Let it go, lady."
The whole thing seemed funny to me, even while it represented an image
of motherhood I wanted to distance myself from: I would never crowd my
child, I would understand when she wanted her independence, bla bla bla.

Can you see where this is going?

I never really read it to the Elder, because I was convinced it had a
bad message. Until one day my mother came by. We were reading to the Elder, and my mother reached over and took it off the shelf. "Oh, that," I
said. "I can't stand that book. I mean, it's awful…" and on into my
"Well," my mother offered, "a lot of the time, when children
are testing out their independence, it's really helpful to them to know that
their mother is still there. It gives them more room to push for
independence if it feels a little safer."


she was right. I read that book to the Elder, who loved it, and to the Younger, who loved it even more. Over and over. "She's going to
follow him, right?" the Younger would always ask, both anxious and excited, and I would say,
"Always." And more or less try to act like I'd always known that was the right answer.

What They're reading
The Elder: The Stink Files: The Postman Always Brings Mice
The Younger: Still on These Happy Golden Years (is Almanzo her boyfriend?)

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