Catie visited in November and helped me remember two things. Catie is nearing three and I remember thinking when my children reached that age that the “terrible two’s” was a misnomer– three seemed tougher.

Something else I’d forgotten–this phase isn’t always pretty!


I saw (and remembered) how a tired, hungry toddler could find herself overcome by temper before she knew it.  She could fit, or hit out of frustration, fatigue, hunger or all three.  And then comes a secondary unhappiness as a child becomes trapped in the misery of feeling badly about an action.

As a parent, I was caught in the struggle and knew it wasn’t easy to get an apology.  The magical distancing of grandparenting gave me a new perspective. I really wanted Catie to know that saying “I’m sorry” could release her from feeling bady. I tried to convey this unsuccessfuly before remembering that I was probably in my thirties before I understood this truth.

Still, I think Nancy Tillman’s Tumford the Terrible (Feiwel and Friends, ages 3 and up) might be a useful book.  It has just been re-released in board book. Although it rhymes, the format is deceptive for its narrative has quite a sophistocated underbelly.




Tumford is a cat, beloved by his adults, who makes mistakes and

“In spite of the manners he often forgot,

he would not say, “I’m sorry.”

Oh no, he would not.

Instead, do you know what that Tumford Stoutt did?

Well, I see you’ve guessed it.

That’s right.

Tummy hid.

The blend of photographs and somewhat comedic, warm illustrations make this a perfect opening to discuss the wondrous effect of that one little word.


Oh and for Baby Zach?  I’m going to send him the board book version of Deborah Diesen’s  Sweet Dreams, Pout-Pout Fish (FSG, ages 0-2) after seeing his sweet sleep-fighting self on Skype recently.  Diesen’s rhymes and fish-version of the bedtime wind-down are well matched by Dan Hanna’s playful illustrations.

“Such a tired sleepy head./Time to get ready/For your cozy seaweed bed.”  At six months, knowing his parents’ talents for read-aloud, he’ll respond to the ryhming. Catie will appreciate the ritual she follows (what I call brush-bath-book and bed) paired with humor. In one silly illustration, Pout-Pout is foam- mouthed in “Brush your fishy teeth” and then rubs his cheeks with sea sponges as the words say “Scrub your fishy face.” I loved the way he tucks himself between kelp sheets as the text lulls, “Tuck in your fins-sleep tight Mr. Fish.”



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