When I was child, my mother read to me a lot. I have no doubt that this is one of the reasons I was able to get a head start in school and the research backs this up. She didn’t keep the books that she did read to me as a kid but I know Dr. Seuss was in there, making his way into my brain. My mother-in-law, Sharon, has kept several of Lisa’s childhood books and still gives her one for Christmas these days, hearkening back to that wonderful intimacy of child and parent reading a book together.
What I really like about my friend Kelly Suellentrop’s new children’s book, Absolute Mayhem, is that it taps into the wildly fun, colorful fantasies that children conjure up in their heads when they are given the time to do so. When I grew up, the time was pretty much unstructured: you did your homework, you did some chores and then you could do what you wanted within the limits set down by your parents. There were not too many limits for me; be home by six for dinner was about it. Want to play baseball this year? Or not? Want to take piano lessons? Ok, but then you have to practice a half hour a day. However, we didn’t have all the structured play activities or athletics that we have for today’s children. I guess there are pros and cons to these things, and I don’t have children now so I’m just relating that those of use who grew up in an earlier age experienced more freedom in one sense. I could sit around in my house in Olney, Illinois, in the 1970s and just make up stuff in my mind. In fact, I pride myself on having been able to play by myself often in our sun room. Of course, this is when I started talking to myself, so if you think I’m weird now, perhaps this is why. At the time, I might have wanted more people around (my sister was 14 years older than me and out of the house) but it gave me quiet and time just to meander in my thoughts and to learn how to entertain myself. I also loved music and played 45s on my little record player, imagining myself as a great athlete or musician or cowboy or whatever I fancied that day.
Absolute Mayhem shows that children have this innate ability where they are able to play between the worlds of imagination and the everyday world, which is hopefully also a creative space for them. If you believe, like Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, that life is a psychedelic experience, the proof is in children. They play unencumbered by “reality” or “evidence,” and this book will put you back in the childlike mindset. It is wonderfully illustrated and has a blast looking at a typical weekend with Lulu and Milo being sucked into the playground of their mind’s eyes. I know that Kelly has a great love for The Monkees’ movie Head, one of the psychedelic classics, so it’s hard for me not to think that she is showing us that what seems to be “absolute mayhem” of the imagination can be absolute joy, the joy of a child living in the present moment. This was a major insight of the “flower children” and one that is as old as Jesus saying that you must be like a child to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
I won’t ruin the story but you can check it out at http://www.amazon.com/Absolute-Mayhem-Kelly-Suellentrop/dp/0692311017/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1418068390&sr=1-1&keywords=absolute+mayhem Get in touch with your inner psychedelic child this Advent and Christmas season. Don’t let the world take your sense of childlike wonder away from you. You can experience Absolute Mayhem and come out the other side with a smile on your face—and on the face of a child who wants to share her imagination with you today!