I just returned from vacation during which I witnessed a lot of ugliness.
With all the talk about compassion saturating the blogosphere, I’m still wondering what world my children will live in. I don’t know if anything has changed.
I hope much has changed. I hope people who are compassionate have discovered they are not alone. I hope people who are not compassionate read something that helps them act with more kindness.
When I think of compassion, I think of all living things. Of all parts of the world. Of my friends and family.
And, yes, especially my own children.
Although my thoughts reach across the globe, I live here. With my children. While they are no more or less deserving of compassion than others, they are closer to me in all ways. (Also, I am a mother. Our lot can be a wildly protective one.)
As we celebrate Read Across America today, I look at my children’s copies of Oh, the Places You’ll Go. This book describes the world as wonderful and confusing and beautiful and scary. This is all true. But if there is more compassion, I will worry less about what places my children will go.
Dr. Seuss Day
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.
But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
I recently wrote an essay about my children’s desire to take a break from their regularly scheduled reading and pick up a picture book. In the middle of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, my 8-yr-old will read Bedtime for Bear or a Step Into Reading book. My 10-yr-old will put down his 600-page The Lost Hero and read The Adventures of Captain Underpants or an early chapter book.
I asked them why they do this. “It’s fun,” they said. But they read for fun every day. They love reading. And they certainly can read at a much higher level than these books.
My 8-yr-old explained that it was a different kind of fun.
“A brain break.”
He didn’t have to concentrate on the unfolding plot and could simply giggle at the antics of Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie.
Then I looked at the in-the-middle-of-reading / to-be-read pile next to my bed. Huh. I have Amy Tan and Gregory Maguire alongside a stack of YA novels and Patricia Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons (that would be a children’s book in case you were wondering). Also, Sense and Sensibility is hanging out right underneath Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall.
Sometimes you need a break from thought-provoking literature, heart-wrenching memoirs, historical fiction, and textbooks. Sometimes you just want to grab a book, curl up with a cup of tea and let your mind wander into magical worlds filled with wonderful stories. And, when that happens, don’t let anything (or anyone) stop you from putting the kettle on and picking up Peter Pan, Dr. Seuss, or Winnie the Pooh.