My wife and I just came back from a vacation in Orlando, Florida. We love amusement parks and particularly love Walt Disney World (we spent out honeymoon there.) For this vacation we split our time between Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.
For those who care about such things, Universal is well worth the trip. It has some of the best thrill rides in the country.
It was also at Universal that I had a startling revelation -- my children will never be read Dr. Suess stories, and in particular The Cat in the Hat. The Cat in the Hat sends a terrible message.
Dear reader, I am sure you are thinking I have finally lost my mind. Up until last week if someone told me that Cat in the Hat was bad I would think it was strange too. I mean Dr. Suess stories are loved by children everywhere.
My wife and I went on the Cat and the Hat ride at Universal. This ride puts you right into the Cat in the Hat story. At the end of the ride I was all choked up. The story triggered bad memories for me.
You see the Cat in the Hat is all about keeping secrets from your parents.
In the story two children are left alone in the house when their mother leaves for the day. The Cat in the Hat (who by the way is dressed in black and white -- kind of like other people we know, huh?) shows up. He brings with him "Thing 1" and "Thing 2" and they do all sorts of crazy things in the house, including taking a bath. An adult looking cartoon cat taking a bath with children in the room. . . While this is going on the pet fish is warning the children that this is wrong and that they should not let the Cat in the Hat do these crazy things.
Finally, the children are panic stricken when they realize that the mother is coming home. "Not to fear" says that Cat in the Hat -- who uses magic to make the house as good as new. The mother asks how the day was and the final line of the story is "what would you do if your mother asked you?
I was stunned. Do we really want our children to get the message that having secrets with adults other than their parents is a good idea? (and burdening children with dark family secrets is wrong as well) This is how kids get abused and molested. The molester always does crazy, fun things with the children and, of course, "it is their little secret."
Think I am overreacting? Maybe I am -- but read the story and ask yourself how you would react if this happened to your children when you were away.
Post Script -- My "Cat in the Hat revelation" occurred two weeks ago. Yesterday I received this "joke" e-mail. I know this is supposed to be funny -- but I got chills looking at it because it drives home my point don't you think?