Thursday, November 12, 2009

Are You Me My Mudder?

When I was little my grandmother kept a couple of kid books and a mermaid doll in her coat closet for me.  The only one of the books I remember specifically was Are You My Mother?  This classic story features a baby bird who hatches while his mother is off finding food for him and goes off in search of her.  He has an innate sense that he has a mother, but doesn't know what she looks like, so he starts asking random creatures - a kitten, a hen, a dog, a cow, and a digger truck - if they are his mother.  The truck returns the bird to his nest moments before the mother bird returns with a worm.  I remember being disturbed by the Snort -  even though it eventually did the baby bird a favor by putting him back in his nest, it looked totally menacing, and I couldn't accept that the bird would ask this scary truck if it was his mother.

Ryan loves this book; it spawned his earliest instance of scripting: "Down, down, down, plop!" was his go-to phrase for "down" from the beginning.  Our copy is a tiny board book, which seems far less menacing than the full-sized worn-out paper edition in Grandma's closet.  To try to ease the anxiety that used to arise whenever I left the room, I always tacked on a final social-story line when I read him this book: "And Mommy always comes back."

Tonight at bedtime, Ryan read Are You My Mother? aloud for us.  It was magical.  It was full of paraphrasing instead of rote recital.  It went something like this:
Are You Me My Mudder?

A mudder bird sat on her egg.  The egg jumped and jumped and jumped until out came a baby bird. 

"Where's my mudder?  I will go and find her."  Down down down down PLOP!

He asked a kitten.  "No, I'm a kitten!"

He asked a chicken.  "No, I'm a chicken!"
Then he got stuck.  The formula here is supposed to be, "'Are you my mother?' the baby bird asked a dog.  'I am not your mother, I am a dog,' said the dog."  I pointed at the dog and prompted, "What did the dog say?" 

"Woof!"  he answered.

Then he saw a big thing.  "You are my mudder!"  The big thing said, "Snort!"  "Oooh, you a scaaaary Snort."  The Snort lifted the bird up up up and in da nest.  The baby bird was home.

Then the mudder bird came back.  "You [are not] a kitten, a chicken, a dog, a cow, a Snort.  You're my mudder.  And Mommy always comes back."

Yes, baby, Mommy always comes back.


  1. Ah, the mermaid doll... What a lot of time you spent with that silly doll. Now that was true love! "Take all you want said Tony" - how soon they forget.


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