October 31, 2014

Dr. Suess Didn’t Have Kids

“You make ‘em. I’ll amuse ‘em.” – Dr. Seuss

Margaret Wise Brown, Maurice Sendack, Beatrix Potter, Louisa May Alcott and Dr. Suess didn’t have kids. And I’m adding myself to this esteemed list of childfree children’s book authors.

How is it possible that such clever icons of the children’s literary world had the ability to connect to kids across generations without having children of their own? How could they understand kids without raising them? Very simple, they were once kids, too. Perhaps because these childless adults never abandoned a child’s point of view, they held close to childhood memories and fantasies and magically preserved the imaginary realm of talking animals and invented words.  Would these authors have the same stories to tell if their priorities were feeding young mouths instead of young minds? Would late nights and diaper duty have sapped their creative energy and capacity to envision Sneeches, Wild Things and truffula trees?

Recently, I asked a parent friend of mine if she would have a pediatrician who didn’t have kids, or an ob/gyn who didn’t have kids, or even a teacher who didn’t have kids. Did it make a difference? She said it did in the case of the pediatrician, which caught me a bit until I realized that I required a doctor with an innie instead of an outie when it came to gynecological matters.

Jo Frost, TV’s SuperNanny, has reared plenty of kids but still isn’t a parent herself. So did this sharpen her skills or limit her adeptness? The SuperNanny has millions of television viewers each week and millions more buying her books on parenting and childrearing techniques.

Raffi, the superstar musical maestro of the preschool set, has sold over 8 million albums. He too is childfree. In these cases their expertise and success has nothing to do with being a progenitor.

Is it a coincidence that my favorite teachers were not parents? What was it that made them so attractive to me? Was it their dedication to children even if they didn’t have little ones at home? Was I a competent teacher even if I didn’t have offspring? Does having children really make a difference when you teach, entertain or care for children? Or is it possible that, just maybe, once you become a parent you stop living like a child?


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Comments

  1. Great piece, Amy. I like the notion that people who don’t have children may hold onto their child-like identities more than parents. For sure, non parents have a very different perspective on kids than parents do, and perhaps that gives childless child book authors and child rearing “experts” an advantage. Well said.

    susan

  2. Super enjoyable read, Amy! Especially keen on the belly button prerequisite for your ob/gyn. I have something similar: I’m not comfortable riding the Essex-Charlotte ferry unless I can be certain that the captain is wearing a fuchsia garter belt… It can be awkward to ask, even more so if/when I have to *check*. As for your lat line? I think you should wear a t-shirt that reads “If you become a parent, do you stop living like a child?”

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