Navigating “Island” Parenting


By : Mutryce Kennings-Williams

Navigating “Island” Parenting is a submission of insights, quotes, tips and parenting advice that I have gathered over the years as a source of inspiration and as tools to deal with the daily challenges of parenting. This week’s issue: “Brains in your head-Insights from Dr. Seuss.” The hope is that this submission would cause you to reflect on your parenting skills and also make the journey of parenting a bit easier or brighter.

Brains in your head! Feet in your shoes!

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” Dr. Seuss
Isn’t that a most profound statement? Take a moment to imagine, just imagine those words being among the last words uttered from your lips at night and among the first words that your son or daughter hears when he or she wakes up or darts through the door at mornings. What impact do you think such words of affirmation would have on him or her? Now close your eyes and imagine how you might have felt if your parent/s had said, “”You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” Do you think that this would have made the world of difference in your life?
As parents we often fail to realize and this may sound a bit cliché but that the best things in life are free, as it relates to parenting; the best parenting tools or devices cost nothing. Words of affirmation cost nothing, absolutely nothing and coming from your lips to your child’s ears this experience could be likened to manna falling from the heavens.

The first time I heard those words…You have brains in your head!
I grew up in the shadow of an awesome and most brilliant cousin who took pride in sharing every ounce of knowledge and insight that he had with me. One day he raced through the door and asked me to take every exercise/notebook that I had and write the following words in the cover of the book, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”
He looked at me and then asked that I repeat the words, and I did several times. He then said, “Now I want you to believe it. You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” He then took a piece of paper from his school bag, fetched some tape and taped it to my bedroom wall, then he was off. I later learned that this was a quote that his teacher had shared with the class, but the quote wasn’t attributed to anyone. I can say today that without a doubt that the quote has had a profound impact on me, because I truly believed it.
It was only a few years ago when I began introducing the work of Dr. Seuss or Theodor Seuss, a beloved children’s author to my sons that I realized where the quote that I loved so much had originated. I rang my cousin who hasn’t stopped sharing his insights, and told him that I had discovered the author of the quote. You see although Dr. Seuss had been around for some time and his books were a staple in many children’s libraries; we did not grow up reading the Cat in the Hat or Mr. Brown Can Moo. We grew up reading about Carol, Indra and Bob which were just as good. There were a few Anansi stories here and there and some Aesop fables too, but I can’t help but wonder the magic a bit of Dr. Seuss could have done for many whom we knew.
Nevertheless, through my cousin’s teacher, my cousin and I were fortunate enough to benefit from the wisdom of this man who has left an indelible mark on children’s literacy and touched so many lives through his simple but rather inspirational quotes, some of which I have chosen to share with you. It is my hope that you share these memorable and inspirational quotes with your children as well.

Memorable and Inspirational Dr. Seuss Quotes

“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s a great balancing act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed). Kid, you’ll move mountains.’

“You are you. Now, isn’t that pleasant?”

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
“Why fit in when you’re born to stand out?”
“You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.”
“Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting. So … get on your way.”
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
“If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.”
“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
“It is better to know how to learn than to know.”
“Be who you are and say what you mean. Because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
“You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.”
“To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.”
“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”
“Life’s too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right, forgive the ones who don’t and believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said it’d be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.”
“Fun is good.”
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss- I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

“You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.”

Recommended Reading for Children from the Dr. Seuss Book Collection

The Cat in the Hat
Green Eggs and Ham
The Lorax
Mr. Brown Can Moo
Fox in Sox
Horton Hears a Who
On Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
Oh, the Places You’ll Go
There’s a Wocket in my Pocket
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The Sneetches and other Stories

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