Ravi has a couple of books that he used to love as a toddler and one of them is “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. It tells the story of how a very hungry caterpillar ate lots of food over a week and then turned into a butterfly. We have it in the board book format with little cut outs for where the caterpillar eats through different foods each day. It’s a very cute book and little kids love it. But it really is meant for a one or two year old and as Ravi got older we read it to him less and less. We now read this book to Max on a regular basis and, for awhile, Ravi wasn’t interested in it at all.
But that’s before daddy started to play around with the books. It all started with a different book of his- Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit. This is another great children’s book for an older audience (3 and up) and I had been reading it too him for a couple of months now. One night I could see that Ravi was enjoying the book, but his attention was also wandering. He was still sitting in my lap with the book in front of both of us, but he was looking around the room, seeing what Max and Mommy were up to, and, in general, half listening half goofing off. So I decided to play a mean trick on him. Near the end of the book where Randy was supposed to make the big hit, I decided to instead change the story… ‘and Randy’s Robot got ready to hit the meteor and oops, he missed! The town went up in smoke and all the people had to move. The End.’
Ravi didn’t say anything. He looked a bit weirded out. What just happened? Slowly his jaw started to drop… Before he could fully react, Mom stepped in. “Hey what just happened? That’s not how the story is supposed to go. Is your Dad playing games? Let’s hear the right story.” Mom was a bit miffed at me for changing the story on Ravi. She thought I was being mean to him. At that point I started to laugh and apologize for my trick. ‘I’m sorry I changed the story. Please forgive me. etc.’ But instead of getting mad, Ravi started to laugh. He got the joke. He was like- Mommy the story’s different, and Randy missed. That was hilarious. Ravi never knew that it could be different. And unlike earlier, I had his full attention. ‘Daddy do another story…’ So what book to do next? At that point, I spotted The Very Hungry Caterpillar book. I decided to re-invent the story with this one.
‘Let me tell you the story of the Very Ravi Caterpillar!’ Now I had his full attention. Not only was he going to get a brand new book, but he was going to get a book about him! Wow! ‘Yeah Daddy tell me about the Ravi Caterpillar!’ So we started out the same, but when we got to the food things got interesting.
Just to give you a bit of background, our kids are on the skinny side. And not just a little skinny, but very skinny. Mommy is always trying to find great meals for them to eat so that they can get fatter and not be so low on height/weight charts. Meal times in our house are a bit of an effort. We have to force the kids to eat a balanced healthy meal and they sometimes resent us for it.
So how does this affect the Ravi Caterpillar? Well let’s just say that he’s not a really hungry caterpillar, but more of a picky eater. When we got to each food, I’d say that the Ravi caterpillar would or wouldn’t eat that, or I’d ask him would you eat that? And the Ravi Caterpillar only ate the cake, the chocolate, the ice cream and lollipop, while skipping out on the fruits and other unappetizing vegetable options. He’d only eat two of the three peaches and skip out on plums all together. The funniest thing is that Ravi and I would play around in saying yes to this food and no to that food for the whole story. At the end of the story, the Very Ravi Caterpillar didn’t turn into a butterfly and stayed a caterpillar because he wasn’t fat at all… The End. Ravi’s reaction was wow. He loved the book. He loved being the center of the story and deciding what to eat and what not to eat. He thought it was all a big joke and loads of fun. Ravi and I had played our game, messing around and changing stuff and making fun of the whole magical story.
And in my opinion, that is still magical. Ravi, I love your curiosity and penchant for changing things and creating new and different things. Right now it’s all about the poopy and pee jokes, but that will mature. And hopefully, when you’re much older, you’ll still have the ability to look at things differently and change them. Because deep down that will help you to stay young forever.
Ravi, please remember all our fun times together.