We have a very old fashioned book on our children’s book shelf by that title. I picked it up at a library sale because it had cute illustrations, but every time I read it, I feel offended for Billy’s sake. In fact, the only reason I still have it is because it is so much fun to hear Addy request the “See-yee Bee-yee” story.
It goes something like this: Silly Billy wants to prove how wise he is, so instead of eating his bag of popcorn, he plants it. When he proudly tells his mother about it, she laughs and says, “Silly you are and silly you will be as long as you live.” His father says the same thing when he tried to make his hens drink hot water so they would lay boiled eggs.
Eventually Billy goes on a journey to prove his wisdom and all the people he meets and helps think he is amazingly smart when in fact, they are incredibly dull. He comes home loaded with the gifts they have given him, prompting his parents to change their tune and call him Wise William.
The book ends with Wise William dreaming of a way to get cows to make chocolate milk.
This week my little girl asked me where her boots were. I knew, of course, and then she wanted to know which front porch. I was reminded of my outrage at Billy’s insensitive parents, yet it is so easy to leave an impression of “how can you be so dim?” even without saying a word. I can spot it a mile away when someone else does this to their child. Oh dear, yes.
It seems I am being tested along these lines a lot. The exasperated parental question, “What were you thinking?” is quite useless, because, sorry, they weren’t thinking.
That includes the little boy who puffed talcum powder in thick clouds in the bathroom because the mushroom plume was so fun to watch. It includes the episode of drawing a huge mural on the kitchen floor with a dry erase marker. In his defense, I had used dry erase markers to divide the floor into sections for different children to wash, but it is a different story when you let it dry. Oh, the scrubbing with scouring powder as the little boy sighed, “I am just always in trouble.”
I had to agree with him, since this came right on the heels of the episode where he had sneaked a bit of ginger ale and failed to close the top of the bottle. When the little sister carried it to me for a taste of her own, I grasped it by the top, lost the whole bottle, and we had fizzy pop all over the kitchen. Oh help and bother. Shades of Silly Billy’s parents came out of my mouth, I fear.
Maybe I should keep the book for myself, to remind me that the stench in the girls’ room emanating from a pillow case full of wild garlic shows persistence and creativity. Or that the syrupy concoction of vanilla and sugar and milk on the counter with the sign “try me. I am good.” may be a great break though some day.