The Best Christmas Present Ever — ?

My sister gave me a bunch of books her kids have outgrown, one of which was Richard Scarry’s The Best Christmas Present Ever! I like Richard Scarry, and since it’s the Christmas season, I thought it was especially appropriate to read to my kids. Until I actually started reading it.

Synopsis — Mother Cat is pregnant, and goes into labor on Christmas Eve. They rush to the hospital — taking the fully decorated tree on top of the car (which she and Father Cat were going to put up that night while the children were asleep), getting stuck in a snowbank on the way. They get pulled out by Mr. Fixit, who also helps Dr. Lion out of another snow bank, so everyone can get to the hospital so that Mother Cat can have the baby. In the morning, Nana Cat is waiting for the Cat children (who grump about not having any Christmas tree or presents waiting for them), and she takes them to the hospital so they can meet their new baby sister — also, the Christmas tree is put up in Mother Cat’s hospital room, with all the presents underneath.

The 99% of people for whom hospital birth is the norm would probably not see the littlest thing wrong with this book, but as I was looking over it (noting how many times there is a sense of necessity that we must get to the hospital, or else!), I came up with several things that are good reasons to plan a home birth:

  • a snowstorm has buried the car, which means that Father Cat has to shovel it and the driveway before they can leave
  • the roads are icy, making driving treacherous
  • ultimately, the Cats’ car crashes and gets stuck in the snow

In a home birth, instead of the mother getting out and risking a car wreck on slippery roads, the birth attendant comes to her. While it is just as possible for a midwife to have to shovel out her car and/or to end up in a snowbank, a car wreck puts the baby at risk.

[I also didn’t like how Father Cat is sort of portrayed as a dope — he is useless without list; and then can’t find Mother Cat’s suitcase, finally looking in the attic, when it is right next to the front door, which is where he had put it several days before, and where it had resided since then. It’s sort of like I Love Lucy, but not as funny.]

So, I don’t think I’ll read it to my kids. Is that going too far? Do you think I’m kinda nutso for choosing not to read this book because it portrays hospital birth in this way? After all, it’s just a kid’s book — what’s the big deal? Well, that’s true; but hospital birth is the norm — there will be plenty of time for the kids to be firmly entrenched in the idea that hospital birth is preferable, without me also promoting it, by reading this book to them. Maybe it’s overkill, but I’d rather just not read the book at all, than to point out to my children at least once on every short page something I disagree with. Of course, I could say, “Mother Cat is going to the hospital to have her baby — isn’t that weird?” But, I’d rather just have them think that home birth is normal, and then they can find out the reverse later.

2 Responses

  1. I don’t read books to my kids that have babies in them being fed with bottles. I find this situation similar!

  2. Kathy, I too like Richard Scary’s humorous children’s books -we have many of them. I have a healthy motherly aversion to incorrect scenarios about important life issues as well. You followed your heart and your common sense thinking-you chose well!

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