I read Todd Parr’s “It’s Okay to be Different” and it helped change me as a parent. My kids have long since outgrown the book’s colorful pages, but I hope they’ll never outgrow the messages of tolerance (it’s okay to have wheels or wear glasses) and self-love packed inside (it’s great if you happen to have a big nose and we all need a little help every once in a while). Being different is, in fact, cool. We even had a pet worm, named Wormy, for a few short days thanks to Todd.
But there’s one page in particular that my kids loved from the moment we read it and began begging to try it immediately: Can we have macaroni and cheese in the bathtub? (Todd says it’s okay to do this, you see.) My initial reaction to the thought of my kids eating macaroni and cheese in the tub wasn’t enthusiasm, I’ll admit. So I put them off. The delaying tactic worked — for a while. My kids were relentless —they really wanted to do this.
I decided this kind of “thing” deserved a special event so I planned that my kids could celebrate New Year’s Eve by having macaroni and cheese in the bathtub. (My eldest son’s response? Finally!) There was a caveat: they must wear bathing suits, not birthday suits, while enjoying their meal. Terms agreed upon, the excitement built leading up to the grand occasion.
That evening, I outlined the bathroom with tea candles, served up sparkling cider in plastic champagne glasses, and whipped up some macaroni and cheese. Wearing their board shorts and huge grins, the boys climbed into their bubble bath. You’d have thought they were eating the finest filet mignon and drinking the most expensive bubbly while on a remote tropical island —that’s how excited they were. Mint chocolate chip ice cream rounded out their meal. When they reluctantly got out of the cold water, thus ending the “best New Year’s Eve, ever!”, I knew the “macaroni and cheese in the bathtub” event was one we’d long remember.
My boys followed this tradition for four additional years before they outgrew it. It remains one of their fondest memories, happily recalled each holiday season. I have to say, choosing to allow the unusual event to happen was probably one of my finest parenting moments — doing something silly just for the sake of it, then adding my own twist by making an event out of it, adding candles and sparkling cider. I’d like to think Todd would be proud.
Have you ever been inspired to action based upon something you’ve read in a book? Did you travel to a foreign land, whip up a new recipe, or begin a new tradition? Or, as my family did, do something silly just for fun? If so, please share your story with us, including the title of the book that motivated you.
If you haven’t read any of Todd Parr’s books, in addition to It’s Okay to be Different, I recommend The Family Book and The Peace Book. For more information, visit Todd’s website.