My Fresh Hell
Life in Scribbletown.

Toddler Nation, Untie!

2006-09-15

Welcome to the Annual Toddler Nation Convention! I am Red, your Highest Priestess and President of Scribbletown, our beloved home state.

I know there are a lot of newcomers here today – those who have just recently joined the ranks of Toddlerdom – and you may still be a bit unsteady on your feet. That’s normal. If you fall, feel free to scream, rub your head and utter “Ow!” Servers are standing by to pick you up and kiss your boo-boo. You have probably discovered that it is not unusual to trip over absolutely nothing but your own toes.

Eventually, you’ll be able to run, skip and destroy like the rest of us more seasoned Scribbletonians. Because there are so many new messy faces I thought it would be helpful to review the Scribbletown Manifesto before we break up into workshops.

There is one change to the schedule, so have your servers mark your itinerary for you. Unfortunately, Pippi Longstocking, who was going to give the “So You Want To Be a Toddler Pirate” seminar had to leave with her father on a sudden treasure run. In her place, I have asked Madeline and Little Black Sambo to give a lecture on “How to Fend Off Tigers and Other Scary Animals.” I think you’ll enjoy it. You’ll learn yet another way to say “No!”

So, without any more ado – will someone please climb up on that rickety chair and off the lights? – I bring you……..

THE SCRIBBLETOWN MANIFESTO, otherwise known as THE TODDLER HANDBOOK

General Rules of Behavior

Any and all behaviors are acceptable. As you know from The Great Sissy’s tome, The History of Scribbletown, good behavior is frowned upon and merits a time-out in most cases. You want to avoid time-outs by having a minimum of four tantrums a day. These tantrums may vary in amplitude, duration and general irksomeness by those who are witness to them. But any fewer than four per day may require your presence in a time-out chamber. We shall not be shackled! We shall not be held back! Fight against the power! It is your Moon-given right to express your displeasure with the universe!

If you have questions about length, duration, and the finer points of demanding satisfaction, please attend this afternoon’s lecture on tantrums. We are fortunate to have The Girl With The Curl Right in The Middle of Her Forehead teaching this two-hour seminar this year. It’s one you won’t want to miss.

And for those of you returning for your final year of toddlerdom, I urge you to attend The Finer Points of Proper Toddler Etiquette taught by Eloise of the Plaza Hotel. We are indeed privileged to have Eloise here this year as she has such a demanding schedule. She will not only give you tips on becoming the ultimate toddler but will reveal the Secrets of Riotous Preschool Behavior.

Food

As you know, we toddlers expect and demand perfection in all food we deem worthy of putting in our mouths. While Alice in Wonderland will discuss the pitfalls of food and drink consumption, I want to put your mind at ease. No food served at Toddler Nation will touch another food substance. All meals will be served on plates with built-in separators. All food will be as plain as the day is long. You will find no odds bits of flavoring or coloring, no imperfections. All crusts will be removed, all foreign objects demolished. You are not expected to clean your plate and by all means, do not ask for seconds until the servers have sat down comfortably in their chairs. They need the exercise and do not mind running to the stove five or six times during any given meal. You need rice, grated cheese, black beans – none touching the other – and you shall have it.

If you put something in your mouth that suddenly turns to poison (a frequent occurrence in our profession, I’m afraid), by all means spit it out! Do not let it taint your tongue for a second longer than is necessary! Servers will be on hand to apologize profusely and clean up the mess.

Lastly, while spoons and forks will be provided for those in training for preschool life, you may feel free to throw them across the room if they offend your sensibilities, preferably hitting a server in the head. They expect to be hit; do not let them down. Eating with your hands is preferable and is more expedient. Washing up afterwards is optional. There is an art to life with sticky hands.

Clothing

Clothing is strictly optional. We toddlers are impervious to temperature fluxuations. Feel free to walk about naked, semi-naked (diapers, pull-ups or training pants only), or fully clothed. You may feel the need to wear your clothes backwards and inside out. You may wish to wear your socks on your hands. I expect this and fully support your creativity and independence of thought and style. There ARE NO RULES where clothing is concerned.

Music

You will notice in the back of the Scribbletown Manifesto an appendix marked Approved Artists. Please take special note of this list. The Scribbletown Cabinet and I have done our best to include a wide variety of acceptable toddler musical artists and music styles including, but not limited to: Jelly Roll Morton, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Art Blakey, Bud Powell, Mose Allison, The Rolling Stones, ZZ Top, Todd Rundgren, Robin Hitchcock, Steely Dan, The Kinks, Heart, Buck Owens, exotica, Bob Dylan, gamalon, and The Muppets.

If you are interested in hearing something not listed in the appendix, you must request permission from the Scribbletown Music Council before you can listen to it. Not adhering to this rule may result in very severe time-outs. You have been warned.

Books

Books are good. All books must be read to you a minimum of 10 times in a row. There are no exceptions to this rule. You shall not have Maisie Drives a Bus read to you only once or twice in a row. Ten times! If you find this difficult to arrange, please attend one of the behavior seminars. We are put here on this earth to teach our servers to best serve us. We are the Scribbletonians! We will not be thwarted from our mission of TOTAL DOMINATION!

Origin Myth

The Scribbletown Manifesto offers you the most in-depth version of our origins on this planet but for those of you still learning the Scribbletown language and in the mood for a story, here it is:

In the beginning there was darkness. There was the moon shining in the darkness, reflecting the light from Scribbletown, the Original Priestess’s place of birth.

We came to Scribbletown from the moon. The Original Priestess was created on the moon and rudely flung from a crater by a moronic server with bad, bad manners. The reasons for this are still not wholly understood though many have offered up their beliefs about this.

The Original Priestess landed in a deep, dark forest and declared it the center of the toddler universe where no toddler will go unloved or misunderstood, where all normal toddler behaviors would be encouraged and cherished until that sad time when they become Untoddlers – the Preschoolers of myth and legend.

And thus it followed that after our spontaneous existence, we were propelled from the moon – flying out of the original crater – and into Scribbletown where we live until the day our server families claim us. It is then our work begins.

At night, as has always been the case from the Original Priestess to this day, our brains leave our bodies and fly up to Mars where they are given Knowledge and Wisdom and Language in small doses. This continues for up to three years until we join the ranks of Preschooler and must leave Scribbletown forever.

And so, my dear, dear, toddler friends, I hope you make the most of your time here at our annual convention. And remember our motto: Always Keep ‘Em Guessing!

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