Monday, March 17, 2008

When Dr. Suess Came To Dinner

When the Cat In the Hat Came To Dinner

By Kimberly Jensen

The red and white striped paper hat stood two feet off of his head and bounced to the rhythm of the words as he spoke.
”I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them Sam I am.”
He stirred the green eggs on his plate and said, “I do not like them with a fox, I do not like them in a box.”
He took a forkful of green eggs, held it over the plate and walked over to his sister, “Would you could you in the rain? Would you could you on a train?”
He walked the plate and fork over to his brother, “Would you could you with a goat, would you could you on a boat?”
This was not an unusual happening in our household. Bennett was playing the part of Sam I Am from his favorite Dr. Suess book. It has been Dr. Seuss week at school and Bennett enjoyed getting the rest of his family to play along.
He has requested the same dinner for the last five nights; green eggs and ham. Since I am rarely a consumer of ham, he has been satisfied with the green eggs only. Each night he gets the pan out of the cupboard, a spatula out of the drawer and two eggs out of the refrigerator. As he stands on the stool, balancing with one foot and a fork, he closes his eyes and repeats the lines from the famous orange-bound children’s book.
Again, this is not unusual at our house. It may be the first time Sam I Am has come to dinner but many characters have graced our dinner table over the last six years. We have had the honor to host; Tom and Jerry, Batman, Spiderman, The Pink Panther, Simba The Lion King and Darth Vader. Tom stayed the longest. In fact the famous mouse-chasing cartoon cat had dinner with us the entire year that Bennett was in second grade. That was also the same year my husband and I got called into the school to try to tame our son who would constantly leap into teacher’s laps, purr and lick his paws (I mean hands.)
So when Bennett shows up in character, we oblige and play along because we know that is how he is learning to relate to a foreign world that is full of words, gestures and body language he doesn’t understand. He copies the way cartoon characters communicate and then he tries it out himself.
He gets plenty of stares and giggles and sometimes rude comments and looks that say, “can’t you control that kid?” There are also times when his brother and sister would like to crawl under the closest rock to avoid his over-animated personality.
While some call autism a disability, I look at Bennett’s abilities and marvel at his genius. Bennett has figured our how to navigate our confusing social world and make the rest of us smile and wish we could steal the words and wisdom of Dr. Seuss and balance on a chair with one foot, holding a fork eating green eggs and ham and say, “I like it, I like it, Sam I am.”

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