Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Twenty-six years ago, just a year before he died, Dr. Seuss published his inspiring graduation speech Oh the places you’ll go!  encouraging each reader to confront life’s balancing act and navigate through life’s potholes on the way to success.  From his book we relearned that our success lies within us. He reassured that we would succeed … “You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed).”

Rereading this book on his birthday should be a detox tradition. (Simple traditions always work best for me.) The good doctor reminds that success is not a straight path, and he foretells missteps and down times …

But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.

Onward up many
a frightening creek,
Though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

STOP   Let’s pause a moment for a quick quiz:  What comes next?

If you tend toward ‘coptering, you might think the next stanza should be something like …

Let me hover ahead
rest your arms
calm your fear.
Let me carry your burdens
‘til good times draw near.”

But, alas, that’s only the sentiment of a ‘copter parent kicking up the winds. Thanks to the good doctor, Dr. Seuss, we know to leave our protagonist in charge of his own life …

On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far
And face up to your problems
whatever they are.

Children won’t grow strong if parents jump ahead and remove the obstacles blocking their success. Many helicopter parents too easily toss aside (or forget) the simplest sentiments shared in a picture book: a child must conquer the world self-propelled.

No wonder Dr. Seuss titled his book Oh the Places You’ll Go NOT Oh the Places We’ll Go.  

We all want our children to succeed, but success depends on making many wrong turns and inadvertent detours. “Un-slumping yourself is not easily done” (Dr. Seuss).  Our children must learn to flex their own un-slumping muscles, not be lifted over troubles by our blades.


*All quotes from Oh the Places You’ll Go, by Dr. Seuss, Random House Children’s Books, NY, 1990.


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