The Man With the Yellow Hat is a Very Peculiar Man

My oldest son loves him some Curious George. The books, the show (on PBS) and even the toys, but he wouldn’t buy one of those toys because it’s not a superhero or a Planet Hero, but if those didn’t exist he probably would buy some Curious George toys.

He and I read Curious George books probably twice a week thanks to the library. Curious George Goes to a Restaurant. Curious George Plays Baseball. Curious George Flies a Kite. Curious George is Bored. Things like that. You know the drill.

And no one in this country or world would know about Curious George if it wasn’t for his ubiquitous friend, the Man With the Yellow Hat (MYWH for those in the know). He has no name, no history, he just exists as the Man With the Yellow Hat. We do know a few things about him though. He is an explorer, as we know from the first Curious George book. He also appears to be wealthy, having an apartment in “the city” and a house in “the country” and because if this he is a man of leisure. There are no real world locations in Curious George, but one can assume that given the history of his creators, the husband and wife team of H.A. and Margret Rey, who fled Nazi Germany to eventually live in New York City, that New York is “the city”, but I’m completely and totally getting off topic.

The Man With the Yellow Hat is ALWAYS wearing yellow. He never wears blue. He never wears red. He never wears black. Only yellow. And it can only be yellow or else part of his persona and psyche is gone, like a war veteran who lost a limb that can still feel it itching when he gets back to “the world”. This weird character trait would make it difficult for a normal person to shop for clothes, but he does live in “the city”, so he probably gets his clothes tailor-made at some haberdasher, being a wealthy gentlemen and all.

And for the love of all that is holy, don’t lose his hat. Few things are worse than this scenario. As he said in one of the episodes of the Curious George show, which I watch with my oldest, “Without my hat, I’m just not…me.” No kidding, Man With the Yellow Hat. Then you’re just “The Man”. A generic plot point in a children’s book. He. Is. Nothing.

The Man With the Yellow Hat also seems strange just for the fact that he’s a strapping young guy in a city full of available ogling females who lives with a monkey. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! And he’s always leaving George by himself, saying things like, “Now I’ve got to conveniently go over here. Don’t get into trouble!” What does this moron think is going to happen, George is going to just sit there? Everybody in the books calls the monkey CURIOUS George. There is no “Mild-Mannered George” or “Dullard George”.

But all in all the Man With the Yellow Hat seems to live a pretty cool life. He’s an explorer, he drives a convertible, he flies a plane, he has a pet monkey. My oldest would kill for that life.

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The Underlying Sadness of “Harold and the Purple Crayon”

My oldest boy and I have been reading the 50th anniversary edition of “Harold and the Purple Crayon” by Crockett Johnson for a couple of nights now. It’s a nice hardback collection of four of the Harold stories and Noah has been completely enthralled by it. He’ll talk about Harold falling off of a mountain only to rescue himself by drawing a balloon so he won’t get hurt. Harold is a clever little boy who doesn’t forget how to get out of trouble when he needs to and that makes the book fun and exciting and ingenius because the whole thing is Harold’s imagination and where it can take him.

But I started noticing something as we were reading through the four stories that make up the collection – it’s only Harold. There are no other humans anywhere in the book. I’m probably reading too much into it, as I tend to do, but Harold is just all alone in a world of his creation Much like Scientologist Tom Cruise. where no one else is. The stories mention him looking for his home, and him drawing the chair that his mother would sit in when she read, and how he remembers where his bed is by gauging where the moon is in his window, but other than that Harold is never in a real world.

Now, it could just be that he’s dreaming and you just never see him wake up, and that’s the more-than-likely answer to the whole thing, or it could be (and I’m just hypothesizing here, brainstorming if you will)maybe Harold is crazy and trapped in his own mind and the purple crayon is some sort of enabler for him to get out of his inner insanity, or maybe he’s been transported into a “Twilight-Zone”y place of sight and sound but no dimension other than 2-D and he only has a crayon to help him escape….

I am reading way too much into it. My son likes the story. That’s enough.

A Disturbing Trend in Children’s Birthday Parties

Being a dad I’ve hosted birthday parties in the past and have often had to go to birthday parties of the children of friends of ours. It’s a trade off – you buy my kid a gift and that entitles your child to receive a gift from my kid at your kid’s next party. Every parent is paying off the other parent so that their kids can get something at the birthday party when it rolls around to being your child’s time again.

And often you’ll put a lot of effort and caring into choosing that special birthday party gift. What does the child like? What is the age range on the gift? Does it have small parts and do they have a younger sibling that might choke on those parts? You want to make sure that you don’t get something that the kid won’t play with because more and more stores aren’t letting you return, or even exchange for that matter, toys that don’t have a receipt with them. You end up putting a lot of research into determining just what kind of present you’re going to buy.

But lately there’s a new trend that until now I hadn’t noticed – the host of the birthday party (the birthday partier, if you will) not opening their gifts that the invited got for said partier until after the party’s over and everyone’s gone home.

After your effort, aren’t you entitled to a little closure with that present that you took care to find and wrap? What’s up with that? You take your present to the party, your child has fun, and then you leave without the host opening their gifts. It’s like watching all the way up until the end of Star Wars and not seeing if the Rebels destroy the Death Star.

Anyway, I’m sounding the klaxon that this is a completely uncool trend. Let it end now, parents of would-be present non-openers. Don’t even try it, muthas.

Wipes

One night Noah was having a pretty hard time trying to go to sleep – he was crying, yelling, whining, general discord. He was up and down, out of bed, back to bed, out of bed again, so on, so on, so on. It was getting old, because by the time that the following exchange and situation happened he’d gotten up from bed about 20+ times.

So he came into our room again and said this time “Peepee on the potty.”

Now Noah is a bright kid and he knows ways to get us to pay attention to him, and we’ve got a standing rule that if he tells us he needs to pee at night, we’ll help him out, since he still has a semi-hard time getting onto the toilet by himself. So I got up and took him into the bathroom, sit him down, and he starts the grunting, meaning that he’s got to poop. He does his business and then I start cleaning him up. All the while he’s crying, yelling, whining, general dischord, like I said earlier.

I get his underwear and pj pants back on and we start heading back to bed, but he doesn’t want to go. I see I left the wipes open and start to close them, but he yells out –

“No!”

”No what?”

”Not the wipes!”

”What? You don’t want me to close the wipes?”

”Don’t leave the wipes.”

”Don’t leave the wipes?”

”No.”

So I took the wipes with us, and he got in bed, and he ended up sleeping with the box of wipes. He was cuddling them the next morning, too.

Racked

I forgot – the other night Noah was taking a bath in our bathtub, which is a huge tub made by a company called Jetta. It’s big enough to fit 2 people, so when he takes a bath in there I get in there with him for safety reasons. It’s pretty deep and if something happened I want to be right there. So he’s playing around, doing things that he’s learned in swim class, like blowing bubbles, and putting his face in the water, and we’re just playing around, having fun, and he decides he’s going to act like when we get on the side of the pool and then jump in, but the side of the tub is too high, so he uses the armrest of the tub. He sits on the armrest of the tub and starts his countdown.

“10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!” and he slides down the armrest into the water, but something happens and he jumps up out of the water, a look of pain on his face.

Yep, he’d just racked himself.

It’s funny to think of now, but at the time I was worried that he’d shattered something or torn something, so I examined him and determined by his almost immediate interest in other things that he was fine, but man, that scared me for a second.

Yeah, I’m still laughing about it now. And I’m not a bad daddy.