is as a Mother” and “Random Inspired Essays”
Most of us are acquainted with Dr. Seuss from our own childhoods. (And if you aren’t then you are missing out, m’friend!) And now, as parents, we get to experience the joy of sharing our beloved favorites with our own children. What’s most intriguing about this, though, (at least for a dorky little writer like myself) is the new levels of understanding that emerge when viewed through the lens of adulthood.
Take Green Eggs and Ham. What a great book! With engaging sing-song text and seriously silly situations, it’s an excellent book for tiny tots up through young readers. And like a lot of great kids’ books, it comes with little teachable moments.
Caution: Rabbit Hole
If it’s been a while (or if you’re somehow unfamiliar), here’s a quick rundown! There are only two characters: Sam-I-Am and an unnamed character I’ll call The Man. Sam is an upbeat little guy who is trying to convince The Man to taste his green eggs and ham. (It’s a dish of ham and eggs which are both literally green.) The Man isn’t interested (and rather grumpy about it), but Sam goes to great lengths to convince him. Eventually, The Man gives in (for the sake of shutting Sam up) and he tries the green eggs and ham. To both of their delight, The Man loves them! The Man raves about the dish, and the story concludes with a heartfelt thank you to Sam-I-Am.
Okay, I’m done.
So the story can be boiled down to trying new foods. It’s a thinly veiled allusion to children’s universal distaste for vegetables. Green food? Uck! But what if you might actually like it? The message is to give it a try, you might be pleasantly surprised.
But oh! Oh, friends! There is so much more to it! There are beautiful golden nuggets in this little story that we can all take to heart!
I have gleaned nine (9) life lessons from Green Eggs and Ham that are applicable across the board, even as adults…or perhaps, especially as adults. Let’s discuss!
1. Try new things.
The story is about a strange food. The Man was hesitant to try the strange food, but Sam ultimately convinced him to give it a taste. Despite his dour expectations, The Man discovered he did indeed enjoy the food, and his life will be all the richer for it. Furthermore, while Sam was glad that The Man liked the food, he still may have been pleased that The Man simply tried it, even if he didn’t like it. (In fact, in our house, we high-five for trying new foods regardless of whether it was enjoyed.) NOW…replace “food” with something else. Anything else. Gardening. Sports. Reading. Try it! Try something new. You might even like it.
2. Sometimes it’s not about the recommendation, but about the recommender.
When a friend or acquaintance makes a personal recommendation, it’s because they like you, they want to be helpful, and they may even see it as a way to bond over a shared experience. To outright reject a friendly recommendation like The Man does can be damaging. (Sam takes it on the chin, though. Good on ya, Sam.)
3. Don’t allow personal preferences to affect your relationships, and vice versa.
The Man didn’t like Sam-I-Am right off the bat. He was instantly annoyed and spoke like they might already be acquainted. “I do not like that Sam-I-Am!” he huffed. Is it Sam’s upbeat persona that rubs him wrong? Or do they have history? Sam did represent a product The Man didn’t think he wanted, but not until after the man declared his annoyance. I don’t think we can answer this ourselves without some backstory, but it would say a lot about the character of The Man if his distaste for Sam were based solely on a chipper personality or his affinity for an unusual food. Conversely, it would say a lot if The Man’s unwillingness to try the food were based on his distaste for Sam himself.
4. Are you trying too hard?
During that opening interaction, one must wonder whether Sam actually heard The Man complain about him. The Man said, “I do not like that Sam-I-Am!” and then Sam immediately popped back into frame with, “Do you like green eggs and ham?” It was almost a response to the declaration. If Sam indeed overheard him, this could well have been an effort to connect with The Man. An olive branch. Maybe the whole story isn’t about the eggs and ham, after all, but about Sam striving for acceptance. I could be going out on a limb here, but if that’s the case then I think Sam’s efforts may be better spent elsewhere. You got a bit desperate toward the end there, Sam…everyone doesn’t have to like you. Or your food.
5. Don’t take rejected offers personally.
Despite continued rejection, Sam’s demeanor never changed. Whether he’s peddling the food or himself (per #4), Sam didn’t take The Man’s rejection personally and stood by the quality and desirability of his product. And Sam wasn’t deterred. If there was indeed a preexisting (albeit strained) relationship with The Man, Sam was either ignorant of, or impervious to The Man’s bristly attitude. He offered up the food — and himself — anyway. Both were simply too good not to want to share!
Which leads us to…
6. Be generous.
When you discover something wonderful, share the joy! Sam found himself quite taken with a new food, but instead of hoarding it all for himself he was compelled to share it with someone else. Not only does sharing such joys enrich the lives of others, but shared enjoyment can enrich our own lives as well. Are you sharing your joy?
7. Persistence can be annoying.
Sam’s persistence agitated The Man. Deeply. It could have ended poorly, too, had Sam convinced The Man to try it and The Man indeed did not enjoy the food. Then, any future interactions would have been tainted by the experience and laced with lingering agitation. If you’re going to be annoyingly persistent about something, you’d better have a Sam-I-Am level of confidence about the outcome, haha.
8. Persistence can pay off.
Despite continued rejection, Sam never gave up on The Man! Sam was so confident in his product (and eager about sharing it) that he ultimately convinced The Man to try it…and with delightful results. In the end, they both benefited from Sam’s relentless pursuit.
And let’s end with a biggie…
9. Even if your opinion is strong, it’s okay to change your mind.
Even if your opinion is strong, it’s okay to change your mind. The Man was absolutely, 100% convinced he would not like the food Sam was offering. So convinced, in fact, that he didn’t say “I would not like them” but rather says “I DO not like them.” He didn’t like Sam, what Sam represented, or what Sam was peddling. (He was a right sourpuss about it, too.) But when The Man was finally convinced to give it a try, he not only liked the new food, it actually changed his opinion about Sam, too. Suddenly Sam didn’t seem so strange in his obsessive affinity for the odd food! With that, their friendship blossomed and the story ends with a warm fuzzy. Are you brave enough to have your strong opinions challenged by the Sam-I-Ams in your life?
Conclusion: don’t be fooled by the simple nature of children’s books. Their message may be directed at children, but if you’re paying attention you might just glean something from it yourself. There could be some deep eggs in there. Maybe even ham.
Okay, now who wants to tackle Horton Hears a Who?
Thanks for reading.