In an effort to step our book reading up to our 5 (nearly 6) year old’s level, my wife bought some basic chapter books. One of which is a book titled Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. It’s broken into 8 chapters, which is a mind blowing concept to a five year old on the surface. And each of the chapters is a kid and their problem. Such as the ‘never want to take a bath kid’ and the ‘never want to share kid’.
But the crazy thing about the book is the solutions to these problems.
All are the ingenious solutions of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and all follow a very similar path. Let’s get into an example so we can get to some interesting observations. At least interesting to me.
The first example I’ll use is the ‘never want to go to bedders’ A group of 3 well behaved siblings who get to 8 o’clock only to turn on the switch to whine and beg to stay up late. And Mrs Piggle Wiggle basically says to let them stay up late, but be sure to keep them on their schedules during the day. And in the end, the kids, who start out each night playing Parcheesi until they fall asleep on the game board, eventually go to birthday parties where they fall asleep in the middle of the magician’s act, and get so tired that they beg to go to bed.
The similarities between all these stories are this: The parents have to let the kid get way worse, before they can help them get better. And that takes a toll on us parents, but Mrs Piggle Wiggle ensures the mothers in the story that it may be a few days, but no permanent harm will be done, and the problem will be solved.
Each story is basically this rise to a climax, then the children figuring out that too much of what they want isn’t always a good thing.
Another observation is that there is no mention of TVs, screen times, even after school – the kids aren’t doing organized sports or piano lessons. They’re all playing around the neighborhood until supper time. The book was published in 1947, which explains a lot. But most of all to me, it explains that as a culture, parents had perspective. Perspective that they could not nag a child into stopping. Perspective that the community can help each of us.
And my perspective on reading this book to my child is that this book never says, “don’t stay up past your bed time”. It tells a story like the inuits do back in episode 89. It tells a story that if you nibble at your food for too long, you’ll eventually be so weak you can’t do the things you want to do.
Those are timeless lessons. Now – we just have to apply them to the modern age.