I recently finished the book "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Safran Foer, and it's one of those stories you just can't get out of your head. The writing is haunting yet sweet. heartbreaking yet endearing.
Its, in part, a story about coping with loss. Most of the book is from the vantage point of a creative nine year old boy, Oskar, who attempts to move on after his father dies.
Its fair to say death is an exhausted topic in literature, but Foer's approach is so unique and fresh. The story is touching with out trying to manipulate your emotions (anyone who has read Jodi Picoult knows what I mean there). In a book that centers around the morose, there is lightness and laughter. Maybe that is the essence of what children bring to the world - honesty and humor.
When Oskar is sad he says his boots are heavy. When he can't sleep he imagines a series of drains under all the pillows in New York City, which collect the tears of all the people with heavy boots. And all the drains connect into a reservoir, where levels raise and fall, giving a daily report of the sadness of the city.
(how beautiful is that?)
I really loved reading from a little kid's point of view. Sometimes I forget kids can have big ideas and unique thoughts - ones still filled with imagination. There's an episode of "This American Life" called How To Talk to Kids where Ira Glass interviews some children and about thier biggest gripes against adults. The verdict: we treat them like idiots, and we only ask them about school.
Maybe it's time to reframe how I listen to the little ones around me and maybe it's time to find better questions than "how was your day? did you learn anything?"