Day 10: Yesterday, at cozy McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro, North Carolina, I picked up a copy of the new Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book. It’s for my daughter.
Another Little Golden Book, We Help Mommy, always makes me think of Hilary as a little girl in the 1980s. In those days, her father and I worked different shifts. I would arrive home at 4:00 a.m. and try to get some sleep. He’d leave for work around 5:30 a.m. Hilary would wake at a normal time in the morning, so I’d attempt to catch a few additional hours of rest in the afternoon. One day, after reading this Little Golden Book to my daughter, I fell asleep and she didn’t.
Roll, pat. Roll, pat.
I’m making a treat for Daddy.
It’s a funny man, with two cherries for eyes,
and one cherry for a mouth.
“Daddy will be very pleased,” says Mommy.
And she puts it in the oven.
Accepting the story as the life lesson it was intended to be, my little one quietly tried to make a cherry pie for her father. She pulled a pizza pan from a low cabinet and set it on the kitchen floor. Then, she tore open a box of Jell-O dessert mix, sprinkled the powder onto the pizza pan, and patted it flat. On top of her powdery pie dough, she plopped a few maraschino cherries, dribbling some of the red syrup across the floor in the process.
Bad luck always seems to have its way with the best laid plans. Hilary’s father came home, walked though the kitchen door, and spotted her makeshift cherry pie before I did. Shocked, and unfamiliar with the plot of We Help Mommy, his first words were, “Hilary, what is this mess on the floor?” I rushed into the kitchen to see what was wrong, saw the pizza pan and the sticky, bright red cherries. “Wait,” I said and grabbed the Little Golden Book with its prescription for pleasing Daddy.
Every reason that I love my daughter is compressed into that memory.
We Help Mommy was written by Jean Burger Cushman. It’s a story about her own children, Martha and Bobby Cushman. Holly Reed and Larry O’Loane posed for the darling illustrations by Eloise Wilkin. The book was published originally in 1959.
When the adorable Amina Sunshine Gorman was five years old, she read We Help Mommy for the camera: