Lois Lowry's Blog

Welcome!

Coping

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 28 October 2006 in Uncategorized

I have mentioned the symposium I was part of in New York a week ago today..."Fear and Fiction" ... and perhaps neglected to list the authors who were there: Mo Willems, Robie Harris, Martin Waddell, me, Pam Munoz Ryan, Neil Gaiman (who didn't make it and sent his speech to be read by someone else), Chris Crutcher, Jackie Woodson, and David Almond (who, similiarly, because of a family emergency had to send his words along to be read).

All of them are writers I admire, and many of them are people I know.

But I had never met Martin Waddell, who came in with his wife Rosaleen from northern Ireland for the conference, and who is a lovely man and a wonderful story-teller (and deserving recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Medal a couple of years ago)

Seeing him made me remember an experience I had a number of years ago, and which I was able to tell to him last week. I wrote about it at the time - ten years ago - and here is a copy of that essay (the child mentioned, my grandduaghter, had her 13th birthday yesterday):

Helping Children Cope

In April my daughter-in-law, Margret, and my two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter, Nadine, who live in Germany, spent two weeks with me in the United States. In the style of German toddlers, Nadine calls me “Oma” in her first language, though she understands English as well and when pressed will acknowledge that “Grandma” is an acceptable second choice.

One evening during the second week, I volunteered to baby-sit so that Margret could have an evening with friends. It was not an easy decision for Margret. She had not left Nadine with a sitter for eleven months, not since the day last spring when my son, Nadine’s Papa, had kissed them both good-bye, gone off cheerfully on a routine trip, and never returned. Nadine was too young to understand about plane crashes or death or why her Papa never came back. She has stopped asking where he is.
That April evening, Margret said a casual “See you later” and slipped away with her friends while Nadine and I were busy playing a complicated game involving dolls going to the potty and receiving applause and rewards.

Later, when the sun had set and the dolls had become boring, Nadine realized that her mother was gone. I can only guess the painful fragments of memories that must have flooded back to her then. My reassurances were useless. Terrified, she ran to the closed front door, collapsed on a heap there on the floor, crying desperately and calling in German words that I couldn’t understand.

I knelt beside her, offering milk, toys, music: anything that might help. Finally, shuddering with sobs, she took my hand when I suggested books, and went with me to the stack of her favorites. She knew exactly which one she wanted; all the others were shoved aside and she went right to OWL BABIES.
Then she curled up on my lap, still whimpering, and watched the pages intently while I read the story of the owl babies who woke up in the night and realized that their mother was gone.

“I want my mommy,” the smallest owl baby said again and again. I could feel Nadine tense in my arms, sharing his plea.

Finally, of course, Owl Mother swooped home, her great wings wrapping the babies with comfort. Nadine touched that page with her small hand, tracing with her finger the outline of those wings. “Read it again,” she whispered, her cheeks still wet with tears.

My granddaughter and I read OWL BABIES over and over that night. When Nadine’s mother, just like Owl Mother, came home at last, the child was groggy with exhaustion, fear, and grief.

But a book had helped her through.

Few children, fortunately, suffer the loss of a parent. But childhood, especially early adolescence, is painful in so many other ways. I can remember, looking back 45-50 years, the feelings of loneliness, isolation, anger, failure. From what? I was an average kid with an intact and attentive family, good grades, nice clothes, straight teeth, all the things that we adults think should create a well-adjusted, happy kid. Nonetheless I sulked and suffered, was embarrassed by my mother, resented my little brother, worried about my schoolwork, found my face repulsive and my body grotesque, just like....

Yeah. Just like Anastasia.

“The rats. They were going to have a baby.” (ANASTASIA KRUPNIK)

My feelings, exactly, at least at Anastasia’s age. And so, too, apparently, the feelings of countless soon-to-be big sisters. One girl’s letter described her mother’s maternity clothes: “My mom has a shirt that says BABY with an arrow pointing to her stomach, and every time she wears it I feel real weird and sad...”

Reading a book with a sense of kinship doesn’t obliterate the feelings of jealousy (or weirdness or sadness). It simply reduces them to the category of normal, human, ordinary, and therefore bearable.
I sort through my own memories each time I begin a book about Anastasia and her friends. Maybe for me, too, it’s a way of coping retroactively.

I remember a crush on a camp counselor when I was a kid. For Anastasia, it became her gym teacher, Ms. Willoughby: “I love almost everything about Ms. Willoughby...” (ANASTASIA HAS THE ANSWERS) and was coupled with my own memories of being the least coordinated person in any sports arena, the last chosen for any school team: “‘I can’t do it,’” Anastasia said in a quavery voice. ‘I try, but I can’t do it...' "

Through the mail, in response, come the letters from all the young girls with a crush on a woman (“I thought I was the only person who ever felt that way and I was scared to tell anyone...”) and those who are klutzy in gym. “Anastasia is just like me..” the letters often say (or “feels like me” or “acts like me”).

When I was their age, dramatically self-pitying and turning to books for kinship and comfort, it was Jo March, Anne Shirley, and Mary Lennox, those misunderstood and introspective heroines, with whom I felt at home. I took them very seriously; they’d been written that way.

But I have come to believe that there is a role, too, for gentle laughter in alleviating misery.

I cringe, still, to remember a moment when I was twelve and my mother was preparing to accompany me to an evening event at my school. She emerged from her bedroom, dressed for the occasion. I looked at her in disgust and said, “You’re not going to wear that, are you?”

When she was eighty five, a year before she died, I apologized to her for that moment. She chuckled, and said that at twelve she had felt exactly the same way about her mother.

I passed the memory along to readers. Anastasia had just turned thirteen. “I don’t even like to walk beside you on the street because you don’t look like a regular mother...” (ANASTASIA, ASK YOUR ANALYST) Readers recognized themselves, and told me so, and laughed. (I hope their mothers did, as well.)

I read, once, an interview with Canadian author Robertson Davies, in which he said this about the use of humor: “It’s simply a matter of sending the dogs in a different direction.”

Dogs? Yes. I know those dogs. They’re those urgent, growling companions that go with you when you try to confront something scary. They’re like the hounds that run eagerly beside Jody Baxter’s father when he tracks the huge bear in the swamp of THE YEARLING.

Sometimes the time is not right. The bear is too ominous, too savage, and your heart just isn’t in the hunt or brave enough for the battle.

So you send the dogs in a different direction. You veer away from the bear, at least today, by taking a side trip into laughter.

That, too, is a way of coping.


In 1985 my publishers received a letter which they forwarded to me. It had come from the father of a boy who had died at the age of seventeen; his letter described how they had given a copy of my book A SUMMER TO DIE to their surviving child, a fourteen year old girl, in hopes that it would help her cope with the loss.

He went on to say that their daughter, three months later, had copied a paragraph from the book, framed it, and given it to her parents as a Christmas gift.

The paragraph that she gave them was this:

“Time goes on, and your life is still there, and you have to live it. After a while you remember the good things more often than the bad. Then, gradually, the empty silent parts of you fill up with sounds of talking and laughter again, and the jagged edges of sadness are softened by memories.”

Eleven years later, sorting through papers, preparing to move to a new house, I came upon the letter from that father. I wondered where he is, how he is, and hoped that memories have softened his sadness. I read his letter several times, and my own quoted words as well, feeling a kinship to him, and to his family, now that I too have lost a son.

It was curiously reassuring, being with them again, for that moment. It was the feeling that others have made this fearsome journey and survived.

It was what my little granddaughter must have felt as she traced the returning Owl Mother’s wings with her tiny hand and whispered to me that she needed to hear it one more time.

Tags: Untagged

Comments

Bertha G Rojas
Bertha G Rojas
Bertha G Rojas has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
Bertha G Rojas Saturday, 19 May 2018

Very interesting update thank you so much for sharing with us that would be acknowledging and would also boost our knowledge too. I’m sure you have the huge list of followers and they happy to have your website and quality work. You are writing paper professional way keep going.

chenlina
chenlina
chenlina has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
chenlina Friday, 15 June 2018

chenlina20180616
chloe sunglasses
bally shoes
bape clothing
levi's jeans
jordan 8
spalding basketball
champion clothing
nike air max
jbl speakers
jerseys from china
abercrombie
maglia calcio
nike canada
chopard jewelry
kd 10 elite
isabel marant shoes
a bathing ape
tom brady jerseys
adidas soccer
lebron 13
nike store
aaron rodgers jerseys
philipp plein outlet
jordan 6
g-star jeans
snapback hats
jordan 9
balmain jeans
jordan 14
lee jeans
yoga pants
ralph lauren jeans
marcelo burlon
new balance
carson wentz jerseys
jordan 32
tiffany jewelry
keen sandals
curry 4
police sunglasses
golden goose shoes
armani handbags
soccer jerseys
10 deep clothing
versace clothing
karen millen
philipp plein outlet
kd 9
calvin klein jeans
adidas crazy
jordan 7
kevin durant shoes
jordan for kids
yves saint laurent sunglasses
alexander mcqueen
bose headphones
skechers sandals
versace sunglasses
lebron 14
hermes jewelry
fendi sunglasses
alife clothing
sophia webster shoes
football shirts
russell westbrook jersey
burberry sunglasses
pandora jewelry
babyliss pro nano titanium
james harden jerseys
converse
clarisonic
calvin klein outlet
parajumpers jackets
armani sunglasses
dyson hair dryer
chi flat iron
tommy hilfiger polo shirts
swarovski rings
monster headphones
givenchy bags
mulberry handbags
ferragamo handbags
kd 8
harry winston jewelry
bottega veneta sunglasses
tory burch shoes
versace bags
bulgari jewelry
barbour jackets
diesel jeans
kristaps porzingis jerseys
abercrombie
tom ford sunglasses
under armour shoes
lebron soldier 9
kobe 10
vans
lacoste jeans
reebok classic shoes
giannis antetokounmpo jerseys
maillot de foot pas cher
tiffany jewelry
armani jeans
victoria's secret
soccer jerseys
jordan 10
woolrich jackets
nike flight bonafide
lululemon
kobe 12
saucony shoes
curry 3
camisetas de futbol
dolce and gabbana sunglasses
dsquared2 outlet
pelikan pens
steph curry jerseys
supra shoes
miu miu sunglasses
chloe handbags
ysl handbags
ghd hair straighteners
dior handbags
huf clothing
mac cosmetics
gentle monster sunglasses
ferragamo belts
fossil handbags
jimmy choo sunglasses
ralph lauren
tiffany and co
soldier 11
oakley sunglasses
jordan 13
insanity workout
jimmy choo
kevin durant jerseys
gucci outlet
dak prescott jerseys
jordan 3
trikots günstig
tory burch sandals
puma outlet
maui jim sunglasses
soccer jerseys
nike shoes
lebron 15
mac makeup
lebron ambassador 10
prada sunglasses
basket store
manolo blahnik
pasotti ombrelli
persol sunglasses
curry 5
freshjive clothing
lebron soldier 10
kd 10
air foamposite
the hundreds clothing
tiffany co
carrera sunglasses
bvlgari sunglasses
air zoom pegasus
lebron james jerseys
maglie calcio
ray ban
givenchy jewelry
burberry clothing
camisetas de futbol
insanity
nike air max
chrome hearts jewelry
prada sunglasses
replica watches
nike hyperdunks
arc'teryx jacket
teva sandals
ferragamo shoes
jordan clothing
designer sunglasses
hermes uk
jordan 2
x-large clothing
kyrie irving jerseys
chanel handbags
tiffany rings
ghd hair straighteners
lululemon sale
nike dunks sb
mikimoto jewelry
russell wilson jerseys
hollister outlet
kyrie 4
nike air trainers
fussball trikots
gucci handbags
paul george shoes
beats pills
kobe 11
jordan 4
chanel outlet
ray ban wayfarers
onitsuka tiger shoes
nike outlet online
ray ban
nike outlet
marc jacobs bags
michael kors canada
visconti pens
nine west
ferragamo belt
dior sunglasses
moose knuckles jackets
omega watches
linda farrow sunglasses
basket nike
air more uptempo
russell westbrook shoes
basketball shoes
nobis jackets
dsquared2 jeans
antonio brown jerseys
cartier sunglasses
basketball jerseys
vetements clothing
guess handbags
chanel outlet
curry 2
dolce and gabbana
maillot de foot
ferragamo sunglasses
nicholas kirkwood
jordan 31
furla handbags
nike kyrie 2
omega watches
supreme clothing
ysl makeup
chenlina20180616

Please login first in order for you to submit comments