This as the poem that was on the NPR "Writer's Almanac" this morning:

Sins of the Father

by W.D. Ehrhart

Today my child came home from school in tears.
A classmate taunted her about her clothes,
and the other kids joined in, enough of them
to make her feel as if the fault was hers,
as if she can't fit in no matter what.
A decent child, lovely, bright, considerate.
It breaks my heart. It makes me want someone
to pay. It makes me think—O Christ, it makes
me think of things I haven't thought about
in years. How we nicknamed Barbara Hoffman
"Barn," walked behind her through the halls and mooed
like cows. We kept this up for years, and not
for any reason I could tell you now
or even then except that it was fun.
Or seemed like fun. The nights that Barbara
must have cried herself to sleep, the days
she must have dreaded getting up for school.
Or Suzanne Heider. We called her "Spider."
And we were certain Gareth Schultz was queer
and let him know it. Now there's nothing I
can do but stand outside my daughter's door
listening to her cry herself to sleep.


It brings back a lot of memories of childhood cruelty: my own to other children, and that inflicted on me by others.  (I was a nice, good-hearted little girl. Why, then, did I write such a nasty note once to a 4th grade classmate named Ruthie? )

And is it just my imagination, or is it mostly girls who do this? Sure, boys go out and scuffle and punch each other. but it is little girls who are devious and often cruel. I wonder why.

One of the best novels to explore this, I think, is CAT'S EYE by Margaret Atwood.

It has been a busy time. I was in New York, had dinner there with my friend Robie Harris (author of "It's Perfectly Normal" and many others), then spent a day at the wonderful Riverdale School before returning home. Then spent two evenings with a group of visiting Chinese artists — ten of them — whose work is about to be exhibited in a show called "Fresh Ink" at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. I was able to give a young painter named Qui Ting copies of two of my books in Chinese to take back to his 10-year-old son in Beijing; in return he gave me his own two books on painting technique—alas, all in Chinese, so I can only appreciate the art in them, not the text.

From the New York Times:

The MFA has selected ten artists who, despite their disparate backgrounds, are bound together by their deep engagement with traditional Chinese ink painting. A few of the artists work in quiet, contemplative modes, such as the landscape painters Li Huayi, Arnold Chang, Qiu Ting, Zeng Xiaojun, and Liu Dan. Some employ the large-scale and immediate impact of global contemporary art, such as Xu Bing and Qin Feng. The others, Yu Hong, Liu Xiaodong, and Li Jin, work with a keen eye for people and society. What is reflected in this group of artists, in their diverse backgrounds, and in their common connections to tradition, is a commitment to understanding the past while forging a vibrant future—a mission at the core not only of "Fresh Ink," but of contemporary China itself.

I was very fortunate to be included, through a friend, in the private pre-show events.

Now I must do all my Christmas cards, and wrap and mail gifts, before I leave for Germany on the 16th. And today a niece is coming with her three little girls, all under 6, because I am giving her the antique dollhouse that my own granddaughters have all outgrown. It will be wonderful to think of children enjoying it again. 


And of course, tonight there is the Patriots-Jets game!