Friday, April 16, 2010

Poetry Friday: fighting affluenza with a lullaby

My students just finished an enlightening discussion about Affluenza. Not sure what that is? Here's the video I ask my students to watch: The Story of Stuff. (You'll need about 20 minutes to see the whole thing.)

Done? Did you watch it all? Pretty incredible isn't it? It may well be a bit over the top, but I think it carries an important message. If nothing else, it makes us look at what we do in a different light. Stop to ask yourself: if even half of what Annie Leonard says is true, what does that mean for us? For our way of life? Our future? Our children?

Consider how easy it is to teach the values of consumerism to our children from day one. Take, for example, the popular lullaby, Hush Little Baby. It has a lovely melody, but my  husband and I didn't care for the values instilled by the original version... hush, now, and we'll buy you this... if it breaks, we'll buy you that... we'll just keep buying you things until you're calm and quiet. Hmm. Aside from the issues noted in the video, it sounds like a recipe for tantrums down the road.

When our oldest child was a baby, I happened across Sylvia Long's (now out-of-print) version of the lullaby. Long's Hush Little Baby instills in children (and their parents) wonder and appreciation for the world around them. It reminds us to take comfort in family and the little things we so often take for granted: the setting sun, crickets chirping, a warm blanket on a cold night, the moon as it traverses the sky, a few moments to sit and read a book or sing a lullaby.

Sylvia Long is an artist, and her illustrations for her version of Hush Little Baby bring to life each of the small joys she describes with her lyrics. Long used pen and ink with watercolor to create a young rabbit and its mother, and we watch them enjoy the world's forgotten treasures throughout the book. How can you not enjoy the evening sky, a shooting star, a lightning bug, time together? This book reminds us all to slow down and appreciate what we already have. One of the keys to happiness.

What is your favorite activity to do with your children, nieces, nephews, or grandchildren? What makes it special?

Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.


  1. Ack! You just reminded me that my niece's baby shower is tomorrow. Sylvia Long's Hush Little Baby is my standard baby gift. : ) While it is no longer available in hardcover, it is still available as a board book, so at least that's something!

    I agree--this version of the book is a great reminder to slow down and enjoy life (especially those baby snuggles).

    Thanks for both reminders!

  2. Hi Alison,

    I agree. For me, one of the pinnacles of existence is when my New England Astor blooms. I love to watch the butterflies collect and socialize on the astor.

    Laura Evans

  3. Glad to be of service, Fiddler. :) I'd forgotten about the board book version.

    I'd love to see the astor, Laura. My favorite part of spring is when the finches start singing.