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About A Book: Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (and Boundaries with Kids)

"Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle" by Betty MacDonald

Paperback, 144 pages

Published 1947

"Boundaries with Kids" by Henry Cloud & John Townsend

Paperback, 223 pages

Published 1998

My son has an ailment. He hasn't been sleeping well. He recently developed this after a series of events; I'm not sure exactly what set this in motion but it's disruptive to our lives.

I texted my friends, asking for prayers and wisdom. We went to see the doctor. She suggested a few things. We're working our way down the list.

I decided to start reading to him regularly before bed to see if this would help, and after a few days we picked a book off out bookshelf, "Mrs Piggle-Wiggle." He giggled at the title. I sat on his bed, he snuggled in the blankets, and I began to read.

Mrs Piggle-Wiggle is the widow of a pirate who buried treasure in their backyard, and she lives in an upside-down house. Mrs Piggle-Wiggle, though she has no children of her own, is a beloved friend to all the children in the town. She is also well-respected by said children's parents as knowing how to cure common childhood ailments. The "Won't-Pick-Up-Toys" disease, the "Selfishness" sickness, the "Never-Want-To-Go-To-Bedders" plight. My son also has a few of these so-called ailments, so it has been a funny and practical read for both of us.

Photo by Tina Floersch on Unsplash

Mrs Piggle-Wiggle's trick for curing the children is simply, "ignoring all faults and accenting tiny virtues (Betty MacDonald)." For example, the child struck with the "Won't-Pick-Up-Toys" disease is cured by his mother stopping cleaning up his room for him. He gets stuck in his room because the toys wedge the door shut. His mother sends up food and water on a rake through the window. The child with "Selfishness" gets little labels for all his things that identify him as the owner. Eventually the kids give in and beg for clean rooms, reasonable bedtimes, and to take a bath.

When we read this book, my son laughed and laughed. Mrs Piggle Wiggle is silly!

In providence, I also was reading "Boundaries with Kids" concurrently (not with my son at bedtime). I love how Betty MacDonald and Cloud & Townsend are essentially saying the same thing. Parents will ultimately help their children by letting natural consequences take over. If you don't take a bath, dirt will accumulate and plants could grow in your eyebrows. If you don't go to bed, you'll be so tired you'll sleep through fun things that happen during the day. Children come to their parents with no boundaries, a mom-is-me identity, and it's a difficult process to train them to be separate.

Boundaries with Kids is practical, and Mrs Piggle Wiggle is hilarious. Both accomplish a similar goal.

I'm not 100% sure, but I think my son may see some of himself in the characters in Mrs Piggle Wiggle.

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