At the end of the summer, my sister dropped off an old book at our house: My Book About Me, by Me, Myself with some help from my friends Dr. Seuss and Roy McKie.
How, oh how, had I managed to forget about this book? It’s the perfect gift for your preschool-to-early-elementary-school-aged kid. I think that I just assumed that they don’t print it anymore, but I was wrong, wrong, wrong.
(For some reason my “More” link isn’t working properly at the moment–there is more, and you can click the title of the blog post to read it.)
The copy my sister brought was filled out by Young Katie. Actually, I filled it out multiple times: first, apparently, by dictating to my father, and later with various writing instruments. In fact, I can recognize my proto-historian tendencies in the note I made that the brown marker was filled out when in 1980, when I was ten.
From it, students of Katiana can observe the evolution of my culinary tastes, for example.
There’s also a section on freckles, where I filled out “I think I have about _____ freckles” with numerous cross-outs as they just kept accumulating. I finally settled on 1,267,000,133, which I can only presume is an approximation in spite of its apparent precision.
Readers glimpse something of 1970s world affairs, as well, in my commentary on other nations “I hate Iran” and “Thank goodness! [I don’t live in Cambodia].” There is also a poignant list of 13 best friends written in pencil that must have dated from junior high school, shortly before I moved away and said good-bye to them all. Happily, at least a couple of the “When I Grow Up, I Want to Be”s came true: writer and mother are both on the list.
When the book fell into my hands, some mixture of embarrassment at its contents and chagrin that it hadn’t occurred to me to buy this book for my own daughters caused me to just slide the book onto a shelf without mentioning it to anyone. But with the super-sonic psychic powers of children, the kids located the book right away, and they pored over its contents and all the maternal secrets they contained.
Pretty soon, M said, “I need a copy of this book for myself!” By the time she mentioned it again, I told her that two copies would arrive within a day or two.
Honestly, it felt like a perfect end-of-summer activity. Filling out the book used some brain cells, but it also included the sort of nonsensical activities that: (1) you would expect from Dr. Seuss and (2) are the kind of stuff that you can really only do if you’re a kid on summer vacation.
J browsed and casually dabbled, but M took on the entire book like she was on a mission. I found her poking in the downstairs closet. “I’m counting all of my zippers,” she announced. “I’ve done my whole room, and now I’m checking my backpacks and jackets.” I advised her to remember her sleeping bag and ski pants. But the funniest is the autographs page, a page full of lines on which a scavenger hunt crowd of people can sign. As a child, I chose to forge signatures with a series of wavy lines, because approaching adults was simply too terrifying. Not M. She’s already trolled the neighborhood and obtained the signatures of a mail carrier and a man with a beard!
It’s a fun book for the kids, and I love seeing the answers to their questions now, and knowing that we’ve got them preserved for history. How else would my great-grandchildren know how many zippers their grandma owned way back in 2014?