I think the day can be considered pathetic at the point in which my mind draws a blank when asked to write about my favorite children’s story. The day was so pathetic that I actually had to call my mom to ask what books I liked as a kid. Her answer, hands down: anything Amelia Bedelia. She told me to go check in the
bookshelf graveyard of retired books for anything from that decade. Ah…yes, it’s all coming back now. Amongst all of the Greek children’s books (thanks Dad), I found the classics–from “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see” to “Green Eggs and Ham”– they’re all there, fossilized in dust, much like the dinosaurs we were so fond of at the same time of interest. After wasting time reminiscing over all of the different books, I finally found the golden ticket: “Calling Doctor Amelia Bedelia” by Herman Parish with pictures by Lynn Sweat. Okay, I can definitely see why my mom told me this was my favorite.
Perhaps my most vivid memory of elementary school, I remember sitting in the back right corner of Mrs. Goodwyn’s 1st grade portable at Gator Run Elementary School, waiting for the activity to begin. I’m not totally sure if I knew what was going to happen next, but out came my mother dressed as Amelia Bedelia, with the maid costume and everything! She did a whole skit and activity, acting just like the dimwitted character in the book. Whether I knew it was going to happen or not, I remember feeling embarrassed. Why does my mom have to be the one to act crazy in front of all of my friends? While many of them were so innocently enthused, I had an uneasy feeling about it. With peer-influence being such an important factor in child development, I can’t say that I don’t know why I felt that way.
For those unfamiliar with Amelia Bedelia, the reoccurring theme in all the books is a maid who takes things way too literally. In “Calling Doctor Amelia Bedelia”, she acts as an assistant in a doctor’s office while the doctor is gone. When a patient tells her that he has ringing in her ears, she answers, “A ringing? Maybe you should answer the doorbell.” When a patient tells her that his nose hurts on the bridge, she tells him to “get off that bridge!” You get the gist of it. She’s a very dumb character.
Looking back on that day in 1st grade, I can understand why I felt so fretful. I didn’t want my friends to think my mom was actually dumb! I didn’t want them to make fun of me for it either. I don’t remember either of those threats being a problem, but I think we could all understand why I wasn’t too happy about it. No one wants their mom to show up when you’re the coolest kid in the whole school (<–not true)!
The mere thought of my mom taking the time out of her busy days to prepare a skit for my class is astounding now that I’m mature enough to understand how ballsy it must have been for her to do that in our elitist city (think Real Housewives of New York crossed with Real Housewives of Miami). She was the only mom to ever plan an activity or really do anything for her kids within school hours.
While the storyline of “Calling Doctor Amelia Bedelia” is honestly really bad and stupid, it’s my favorite children’s book because it revokes such fond memories of my mom being badass. Who else’s mom would actually do that for them? Maybe her intentions at the time were for the purpose of torture, but maybe she just wanted me to have something to hold on to as a reminder of the simplicity of childhood. If my biggest problems right now were worrying about my mom embarrassing me, I probably wouldn’t be a functioning member of society. Amelia Bedelia is a good reminder to forget the small stuff, to not take things to literally, and to tell my mommy I love her.