The Princess Cupcake just turned 6. Developmentally, it’s been a big year and we’re both learning a lot about how to navigate the social waters of elementary school. I’m not especially pleased with how mean the kids in Kindergarten can be to each other. Cliques, insults, bullies… Man, it’s a tough crowd! And those are just the moms.
Seriously, the kids are getting more adept about what they can say to hurt each other’s feelings and how they can manipulate others to get what they want. When the Cupcake came home and told me that she heard a friend say, “I like to make people sad,” my heart nearly broke.
(Insert sad face, I want to freeze her little innocent self before it gets any worse!)
Thankfully, there’s a book that was recently published that helps parents with these troublesome behaviors. Margo’s Magnificent Choice (and the boy version Max’s Magnificent Choice) by Chris Kent Phelps and Cindy Kent tells the story of Margo the Monkey. Margo uses not nice words and that affects her friendships with the other animals in the jungle. Specifically – they don’t want to play with Margo. Go figure, mean little monkey.
The story paints a picture of how little Margo, who on the surface appears to be well adjusted and happy, is in reality quite sad because she’s having a problem making friends. Margo has learned some bad words and uses them when trying to play with others – only to discover that she’s not welcome in those jungle playgroups anymore. Lonely and confused, a wise owl befriends her by explaining to her that her choice of words are what’s keeping her from making friends. He gives her a Tacky Box to hold all the words she hears and thinks would be hurtful to others. Once Margo writes the words and places them in the box, Margo has made the decision never to say those words to her friends, but to choose better words in their place.
I won’t spoil the ending for you but I bet you can see where it’s going.
Margo’s Magnificent Choice – as you might imagine — was born from real life experience, the aftermath of a 4 letter bomb drop from the author’s very own child’s mouth. This valuable lesson is told in a way children can totally relate to, and the book is brilliantly packaged with a wooden “Tacky Box.”
The Tacky Box is prime for decorating in every way a young child would like to (the Princess Cupcake chose markers), and also contains a pre-printed pad of paper to write those horrid tacky words down on.
The Cupcake couldn’t wait to decorate her box and promptly started following bad mood Daddy around to see if she could catch something to place inside.
We’ve been lucky in that SO FAR, we haven’t had an issue with the Princess Cupcake using mean words towards her friends (that we are aware of) or bad words around us – although she has been on the receiving end and that can be heartbreaking for us all. Like all parents, we love her through it and give her advice on how to handle situations when “friends” are mean to her or others. I’m happy to have this book in our arsenal now as added assurance: those mean kids won’t have friends for long if they keep using “tacky” words. Her colorful box on display is a great reminder to think about how we speak to each other.
I like the concept of this book and I’m not alone. I shared it with another mom who instantly got online to order one for her daughter. The only hazard I’ve encountered is that the Princess learned some new insults by me reading it to her. “Fatso” apparently is not en vogue with her class yet. Did I mention I wanted to freeze her in this innocent phase?
As the Cupcake grows older I see this set becoming a regular go-to resource in our house. We’re just hitting the age where it’s especially impactful, but I suspect that as relationships become more complex in our early education year, Margo’s Magnificent Choice will become not only a stand-by favorite, but a great way to open discussion on what’s happening at school and the world around her.
I received the Tacky Box set for a review opportunity. All opinions are my own.