Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Shoe Shopping

I'm a conflict-avoider. She isn't. 

"Sometimes you have to have conversations," she insists. "That way you can see the issue from another person's point of view, put yourself in their shoes." 

"But why do you have to have a conversation in order to do that?" I respond. "Can't you just put yourself in their shoes?" 

Maile Meloy's "Whose Side Are You On" explains that he can write for children because he was a child once. Many are surprised at his vocation, since he is not a parent. But what should being a parent have to do with it?
But most of my friends who write for kids don’t have them, and neither did some of the best children’s book writers ever. Theo­dor Geisel — Dr. Seuss — didn’t even like kids. “You have ’em, I’ll amuse ’em,” he’s supposed to have said. Maurice Sendak had none. Neither did Tove Jansson, Tomie dePaola, Ezra Jack Keats or Margaret Wise Brown. The great children’s books editor Ursula Nordstrom said, “I am a former child, and I haven’t forgotten a thing.” It’s not a requirement to have children in order to write for them. You just need to have been one, and to remember what it’s like.
I was a tween when the first nephew arrived in my life. As I had entered adulthood kicking and screaming, I clung as much as I could to my fuzzy childhood memories. It granted me an edge, an understanding in some ways the adults could not relate to. How could they have completely forgotten about the monsters under the bed?

Ma allowed me to train her in the fine art of toy buying. She has gotten so good that I don't need to go with her anymore. I know which stuffed animal in my room goes with which child when they sleep over. Giraffe for A, "Bouncy Bear" for B, "Kallah Bear" for C, all of the above, and then some, for D. Appropriate blankie distribution is a whole other matter entirely.

But I am also the tough disciplinarian, because I know it is this narrow window that they must learn how to behave. Too soon, cookie, no one will find your tantrums cute. The world will not accommodate them.

Children's needs are simple. Don't make them complicated. Good food and good sleep is 80% of the work. They really don't act up all that much if they have enough rest. Like me. 

More recently, I am trying to see things also from other adults' perspectives, especially in cases when I feel slighted or belittled. It's often not personal, rather an "offsetting of pain," to quote Brené. That allows me to move on, and not wrinkle.     


Anonymous said...

God willing, you'll be a parent one day, and you'll cringe at above post (and on the many other posts on parenting you've already written).

Writing books for kids is not parenting them. Babysitting a niece or nephew and knowing which toy bear goes to which child is not parenting them. And God, how I WISH it was as easy as "good food and good rest does 80% of the work". Normally I wouldn't even bother commenting when you're so clearly writing on a subject you have a very superficial relationship with, but that sentence just tipped me over the edge. "They really don't act up all that much if they have enough rest." Really? I would pay good money to see you say that to a parent's face. Go on. I dare you.

I'm sure you're a wonderful aunt. But you're not a parent. So please stop giving out harmful advice.

Princess Lea said...

I am sorry if I offended you, or any parent. That was certainly not my intent.

My views are not strictly my own; my mother (a parent), says the same thing. I quote her often, especially in posts that touch on parenting.

I never said that writing books for kids is the same as parenting. Neither did the author of the article; if anything, he states as much. His point was that he can write for children because he was a child once.

My main point was about being able to see things from another perspective. By remembering my own perspective as a child, I was saying, allows me to understand, to some extent, what children need and want.

My choice of percentage was perhaps unfortunate. But I happen to be terrible with numbers.

I certainly did not intend to claim that parenting is a teddy bear. That was falling under kiddie "wants," not "needs." Again, I meant about seeing things from another perspective, so I did not go as fully into detail about that realm.

The parent I am talking to socially is not requesting my opinion, so I would not provide it. Nor would I walk up to an overweight individual and say, unsolicited, that she should try some vegetables.

This is a blog. I am writing from my own experience and opinion, not claiming I am the all-knowing advice giver. The internet is rife with individuals doing the same thing, never mind the plethora of books and newspapers that paper the universe.

I have faith that my audience is capable of critical thinking, so even if I say something they do not agree with they would not implement it blindly. I myself read many things, every day, that I do not agree with. That helps me form my own view all the more.