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The Case Against Green Eggs and Ham

Updated on May 10, 2015

My almost-two-year-old demands to read this book at least three times daily. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Dr. Seuss fan. But I want to light this book on fire. As a mother that is adamant about teaching her daughter that she has a right to say no to things that make her uncomfortable, Green Eggs and Ham rubs me the wrong way.

“But it teaches a good lesson about trying new things!” my husband says.


It teaches that if you push and harass and nag people long enough, they will eventually do what you want – even eat slimy food that has been sitting God-knows-where long enough to turn green.

It’s entirely possible that the victim in this story (yes, I said victim – go ahead and clutch those pearls, ladies) contracted food poisoning after ingesting rotten eggs and meat against his better judgment.

But it’s okay, right? He tried something new!

I’m not saying the book is evil or anything. It’s a renowned classic by a beloved children’s author. It’s creative. It’s catchy. The illustrations are engaging.

But good ol’ Theodore Geisel dropped the ball on the plot.

If Sam-I-Am was a normal, respectful guy, he would have taken Grumpy Guy’s first answer and walked away.

“Do you like green eggs and ham?”

“I do not like them, Sam-I-Am. I do not like green eggs and ham.”

“Okay, cool. I have some if you change your mind.”


Everyone wins. Grumpy Guy gets to sit in his chair and enjoy a pleasant afternoon, and Sam-I-Am gets all the green eggs and ham to himself. Or he can save it for St. Patty’s day when people are more likely to eat green food.

Instead, he tries to switch location.

“Do you like them here or there?”

Why would moving three steps to my left change my desire to not eat rotten food? No. Leave me alone.

“Would you like them in a house? Would you like them with a mouse?”

Yes, because that’s how I always eat my vomit-inducing lunch - with rodents.

Sam-I-Am then proceeds to chase Grumpy Guy up a tree, onto a train, through a dark tunnel, until he nearly drowns him and all of the innocent bystanders inadvertently caught up in the mess HE created.

Grumpy Guy finally wrinkles his nose and takes a bite to get Sam-I-Am to leave him the hell alone.

“Say! I like green eggs and ham!” he exclaims.


They walk away together, the best of pals, forgetting all the shenanigans that just took place.

So what’s the moral of the story?

Sam-I-Am just learned that he can get his way if he’s persistent enough, and Grumpy Guy will (literally) eat his shit with a smile.

What next? Sam-I-Am decides he wants Grumpy Guy to take up pole dancing? Try new things! Amirite?

Sam-I-Am’s parents clearly failed to enforce basic personal boundaries, and he became a bully pushing people who barely tolerate him to eat his nasty food.

I have an idea. Let’s teach our kids to try new things without having their personal boundaries violated in the process. Let’s teach them to say no to the “well-meaning” bullies.

Their reasons for saying no don’t matter. Their personal rights do.

No means no, Sam-I-Am!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to read The Cat in the Hat.

Tell Us in the Comments!

How do you plan to teach your children about personal boundaries?

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