It’s St. Patty’s Day, the occasion when everyone gets to be a little Irish. I’ve never been one to celebrate the day even though I’m a redhead of Irish descent who loves Riverdance and Enya. (We also have some Scottish, English, and German mixed in there. Ancestry.com confirmed that my family is entirely white.) I’ve always been equal measures fascinated and horrified by green beer and kissing strangers. As for lucky? Not in the traditional sense. In my 40 years, I think I’ve won two raffles but stepped in dog poop 143 times. That being said, if given the opportunity to indulge in a shamrock-themed dessert, then sure, I’ll kiss you or be a leprechaun or search for gold or whatever. But green has been on my mind the last few days. Specifically, Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.
Dr. Seuss has recently received negative press because of a few of his lesser known children’s books depicting racially charged illustrations. This post isn’t intended to join in on that chatter. People with authority in publication and distribution of literature must weigh cultural sensitivities against censorship and 1st Amendment rights. I know where I stand, but I don’t envy them.
Dr. Seuss has long held a special place in my heart because his books were the first I read on my own. I was a late reader; 10 before I could make sense of anything. I had a bit of dyslexia going on, but there was more to it than mixed up letters and numbers. To this day, phonics makes little to no sense to me, and while I can hear whole words, individual syllables are very difficult for me to decipher. This is particularly true of vowel sounds. It’s one of the reasons why I am a terrible speller. Any time I try to sound a word out, it ends up looking like Cuneiform and spell check had a crack baby. Most of the time spell check doesn’t even know what word I’m trying to guess. Thank the gods for Alexa, Cortona, Google, and all the other voice assist options I have now. I can just ask them for the spelling instead of playing dictionary roulette.
Anyway, the rhyming, cadence and repetition in the Dr. Seuss were perfect for my poorly tuned ear. So many of the words don’t make intellectual sense, yet I could make sense of the patterns. I could see how words looked similar and sounded similar. Since it was all nonsense, I didn’t feel as behind as I was when reading lists of cat, sat, hat, pat, rat, etc. I was allowed to make silly mistakes because they were silly words. It was a safe haven, even for an older child. I remember how triumphant I felt when I finished that first book entirely on my own. It was Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! After that, there was no stopping me. I tore through books, making up for all the time lost, and building a love of reading that has grown with me since that day.
I don’t make it a habit of eating green eggs, but it seemed apropos for today. Even though I don’t visit casinos, play the lottery, or believe in the power of fortune cookies, there are still plenty of ways in which lady luck has smiled on me. In retrospect, those years that I fell behind my peers and struggled with reading really shaped my character. I learned a particular tenacity that has fueled by academic and intellectual pursuits since then. I’m lucky to have had supportive parents and teachers. I’m lucky to have had access to a school library. I’m lucky to have gobbled up Green Eggs and Ham.