We all take it for granted that kids, little kids especially, are very emotional. This is an easy situation to under appreciate, for instance, in the car when Monkeys 1 & 2 have decided that however long this ride has been is JUST TOO LONG and there is no way anyone is going to make it to the destination with any semblance of happiness. The overwhelmingly positive side of this “emotionalism” (thank you, Avett Brothers) is that you know these (crazy) people you’re dealing with are sincere. As we grow up as individuals and as a society it seems sincerity has become so un-cool that encountering it in the wild is so rare that it sometimes causes confusion. Embracing sincerity knocks the built up irony off your emotional edge and brings it back to being razor sharp. Sharp enough to be useful but also sharp enough to cut you again. (Although to muddy this mixed up metaphor even more I’d like to point out that dull kitchen knives are usually more dangerous than sharp ones, likewise for chisels, planes, and saws.)
An odd example: There I am reading a book to my girls, Peace Is An Offering by Annette LeBox. Its my first time seeing this book as it was one that Monkey 2 grabbed off the library shelf for no other reason than that she could reach it. It’s quite a nice little poem about reaching out to people to make the world a better place and the pictures are nice so we’re all happy. Then I turn another page and get hit in the face with a shovel. I’m looking at a beautiful illustration of a mother and her two kids looking at the Manhattan skyline from what appears to be Brooklyn. They’re sitting underneath a cherry tree with pink petals, some of which are drifting around them*. The text talks about finding peace even in the wake of tragedy and after the loss of friends. Having never encountered a 9/11 reference in a children’s book before I was stunned. I was also stunned by the enormity of trying to explain why I was stunned, why I was instantly so sad. How do we explain to the innocent that there is real malice in the world? How do we explain to the very young that their entire world has been shaped by 9/11 and its after effects? I turned the page and rejoiced to see kids skipping around a Maypole. We’ll have to grapple with the darkness of the outside world later, I guess.
In purely optimistic news, our Tulip Poplar seedlings are doing great. We haven’t had to water them at all given our Deluge for what seems like all of recent history. We have needed to weed them even though they are in little pots. I’m always impressed with the tenacity of plant life, even if it makes our forest restoration that much more difficult. It’s good to have a worthy opponent.