About a year ago, when my Dad was still not quite himself and my brother and I were falling all over ourselves and each other to just DO SOMETHING to fix the situation damnit! we found ourselves going through my parents storage unit trying to consolidate it and save them some money. That day is a story all by itself as we ended up in a horrific fight brought on by many years of sibling issues topped with a nice dose of current family crisis which eventually led to a very nice dinner and the first honest conversation we've had with each other in - well maybe ever. So that is the real story of that day in the storage unit, but instead I'd like to tell you about the purple tote of books that I found and carried home with me.
In that purple box was the complete collection of Sweet Pickles books. These books were hugely popular when I was younger and my parents had enrolled me in the book club so I received one a week in the mail or something. I loved the books and when I found them was so excited to bring them home to share them with Lily.
Well they sat in that purple tote in the garage for a while, but one day Lily was having sort of a rough night so I decided to go down there and bring up the first book, "Who Stole Alligator's Shoe" starring Accusing Alligator. Lily LOVED the story and was enthralled by the listing of all 26 characters and the map of the town of Sweet Pickles at the back of the book. She studied the map and wanted to know where all the animals lived. She couldn't wait for story time the next day to meet the next character (Bashful Bear).
Did anyone else have those as a kid? They're such great little books. I love that the characters just are who they are - without judgement really. Jackal is jealous (and really pretty much a jerk), Pig is positive, Camel is clever, etc. The traits get the characters into "pickles" but the experiences don't necessarily transform them. At the end of the story Alligator is still accusing and Bear is still bashful. I love that children can relate to the different personality traits without feeling bad about doing so. The stories illustrate the consequences of some traits without saying that you shouldn't feel this way or that way.
The Bashful Bear story was particularly awesome because at the time Lily had been complaining about stomach aches that we thought might be somewhat due to her being worried about something and not a real physical ailment. In Bear's story he wants to call Pig, but is too shy. When he does call her, he hangs up without saying anything and then his stomach hurts. I loved that Lily could totally relate to how Bear might be feeling. A few days later she wanted to talk to him to help him call Pig. she was pretty upset that we couldn't actually go visit Bear, but I was able to convince he to write him a letter or draw him a picture while she was school that day instead.
One somewhat annoying side effect is that her favorite character seems to be Kidding Kangaroo who goes around teasing people. But even then we've had some nice opportunities to talk about teasing and the difference between making people laugh because you're being funny and saying mean things that might make someone else sad. I think those are tough things to learn as a little one, and i like that Sweet Pickles have given us a chance to explore those aspects of social interaction with her, even if it's taking her some time to figure it out.
By now we've read all forty books and they have a special spot on a bookshelf just outside the kids room. These books are always the first to go into her backpack when we're traveling somewhere or going to Grammy and Papa's. We still read one nearly every day. I love that my Mom kept these for me and that I've been able to share them with Lily. I can't wait for Quinn to start enjoying them too!