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'Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag' Book Review


This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases - at zero cost to you.

I purchased a free Kindle version of "Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag" by Carole P. Roman during a promotion without knowing anything about it. But after reading through it, I was SO glad I got it! The basic premise is that Susannah, a third grader, has problems she doesn't want to deal with so she shoves them in her backpack. And while this is a wonderful story to illustrate to children how problems grow and become overwhelming when you try to ignore them, it has another message which makes it JUST as important for parents to read.

It's easy for us to think that since children have much fewer responsibilities than adults that their lives are simple and stress free. But that is definitely not always the case. Susannah's problems start with an unfinished homework assignment and grow to include an unwanted banana, and invitation to a sleepover she doesn't want to go to, a failed pop quiz, two books she can't decide between, forgotten gym shoes, and finally an exploded banana in her backpack. Many adults express disappointment in Susannah's not meeting their expectations throughout the day, but Susannah is also offered help a couple of times. It seems as though Susannah has internalized all her problems as HER problems to deal with and so she turns down any offers for help. 

Eventually though, all her hidden problems completely overwhelm her and seem to explode! Susannah's parents come to find out what's wrong and she finally shares all her struggles with them. In the end, Susannah learns that it's important to tackle one problem at a time and that she can always turn to others - especially her parents - for help. 

The message for adults in this story is to have reasonable expectations for what your children are capable of doing on their own, to not transfer our stress onto our children, and to realize that if your children are not "meeting expectations" (and by that I mean they're not accomplishing things they've shown they can normally do on their own) you should take a moment to figure out why rather than simply express disappointment. Chances are, they need a little support and love. They might not have gotten a good night's sleep. Or they might be overwhelmed and need help getting back on track.

Equally important is to apply all these lessons to ourselves and other adults in our lives as well. It is so easy to get lost in the busyness and stress of accomplishing everything that is expected of us that we feel overwhelmed and disappointed in ourselves. Or pass our stress along to others. And it seems to be a rule of nature that problems quickly multiply when we are stressed. Susannah's mother ruins breakfast AND dinner because she is preoccupied, rushing, and stressed about work. It's ok to allow yourself to slow down and remind yourself that you don't have to do everything every day. There are days where I just feel like I can't catch up on all the dishes and laundry and schoolwork and deadlines. So I pause and figure out how to make my life easier. I can ask for help from my kids or husband. I can get takeout for dinner so I can save time cooking and cleaning. We can take a day off from schoolwork so I can get rid of the overwhelm. 

I highly encourage everyone to read this book along with their children. Having an open dialogue with your children about stress and overwhelm will let them know that it's something everyone deals with now and then and that they can always ask for help when they need it. And I can't wait to read the next book, "Oh Susannah: Things That Go Bump."