During a recent school book drive, my 4-year-old acquired a copy of Eric Litwin’s “Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes,” the first book in an ongoing series of children’s narratives revolving the life of fictional Pete the Cat illustrated by James Dean. The book features a catchy sequence of storyline and song by the main furry protagonist and has a great moral undertone with opportunities for Jrue to review colors and counting and patterns. I couldn’t ask for more in a story.
Jrue loves this book. I like the book, too. I’ll admit it.
I can honestly dictate the lines right now from memory, backwards, because of the frequency it is chosen as his bedtime story.
We play up the musical feature of the narrative by delivering Pete the Cat’s singing voice (through mommy) to the melody of “The Farmer in the Dell.” It came to me naturally the first night of reading that the only way to emote the lyrics were to this specific nursery rhyme; and, since Jrue has not requested a tune change, we don’t attempt to reinvent the wheel.
In regards to the plot, I don’t mind at all the complete coolness through which Pete rebuffs his temporary problems. Instead of fretting over little setbacks, the cat continues on his walk, still completely loyal to his favorite sneakers, regardless of the unforeseen physical alterations. He actually verbally adds the troubles to his ongoing song, which is quite a brave choice indeed. Instead of volunteering to simply watch where he is going and avoid the mass levels of random mountains of fruit laying around, Pete still maintains his authenticity, which apparently involves an innocent, albeit dangerous, tunnel vision of sorts. Even skirting through a whole bucket of water in his path, when it is general knowledge that most cats abhor water, does not ruffle him.
And what does Pete do at the end of the story after taking his sneakers through this tie-dye job all day? Goes home and sprawls out on the arm of a couch, completely oblivious that those wet sneakers really should go into the laundry asap.
I cannot be mad at that kind of unassumingness. He is a cat, after all.
Cats do whatever they want.
My son, easily agitated, sometimes flighty, habitually restless can learn 3 life lessons from Pete the Cat’s actions.
When things go awry, sustain major composure. For Jrue, “things” can run the gamut from misplacing his favorite yellow car to falling out of a chair at school. This guideline is transferrable to all aspects of being a preschooler: building autonomy, exploring relationships, learning numbers. Stressing less is best.
Always preserve a valid “you.“ As he explores personal options and values and later understands a moral system, Jrue, similar to his peers, will be exposed to a much different, much more socio-technological identity than both his mother and father. My son will eventually discover how to manage the terrain of our global environment while asserting his great distinctiveness.
Find the relaxation when time. Being a human rightside-up, there are so many avenues to royally mess up, deliberately or unintentionally, in a given 24 hours. For Jrue, this can mean choosing to write on mommy’s kitchen floor with a dry erase marker or not making the trip to the potty fast enough post-nap. Along with teaching him that it’s perfect to make a mistake, Jrue will undergo some hard knocks, many of which we cannot formally teach, regarding accepting errors in judgment and springing forward again with newfound knowledge. Getting proper rest to achieve this reset is essential in any problem-solving process.
Am I encouraging my son to be like Pete the Cat?
I like that cat.