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Currently showing posts tagged books

  • the dying time of the year

    This is the time of the year when the light begins to ebb, to shorten, to fade, when we are reminded of mortality. But it is of course always with us. Children discover it in myriad ways: the broken cookie; the dead bird on the sidewalk; the death of a friend. This essay, by Monica Dux, is a meditation on the ways in which her daughter makes community and makes meaning in the wake of the death of her stick insect, Johnny:

    My grief-stricken daughter put him in a glass bowl on the kitchen table, where he lay in state, while she decided what to do with his body. 

    She knocked on the neighbour's door, to let them know that Johnny was no more.  She spread the word at school too, and it was there that one of her wise teachers comforted her with the words "It's not how long you live, but how well that counts". This was true, my daughter told me. Johnny had lived well. She repeated this solemnly when she rang her grandparents, to break the bad news. 

    If you're wondering how to help a young child you know begin to make sense of death, if you want to offer some ways of beginning to speak about it--as the teachers Dux describes do--you might explore some the following books.

    And if you're with an adult, you might simply hold space for them. 

  • listening to fathers

    As parental roles shift, more men are sharing their experiences as fathers. Podcasts devoted to fathering are part of this exploration. The Modern Dads Podcast and Brand New Father Podcast both offer interviews with experts as a means of figuring out what's happening for fathers. At the same time, there's something about the expert focus of these podcasts that tends to diminish the rawness of the experience, and leaves me wanting something more.

    So I mentioned Elisha Cooper recently. He's a children's book author, and wrote a second memoir--better than the first, I think--called Falling: A Daughter, A Father, and A Journey Back (New York: Anchor, 2016)--about the time when, holding his daughter on his lap at a baseball game, he felt a lump under her ribs, and everything changed. His meditation on his own emotional development through the family crisis that ensued is deeply moving. And it's a rare look at the powerlessness that fathers can feel. 

    Either way, it's not all Oedipus and Laius or Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader or any of a number of similarly charged pairings anymore, thank goodness. 

  • becoming a father

    There's a head sticking out of my best friend. This is insane. Anybody who says this moment is the most precious wonderful thing in the world is delusional. This isn't a miracle, it's assault. I'd call 911 but we're already in a hospital. 

    So begins Elisha Cooper's Crawling: A Father's First Year (New York: Anchor Books, 2006). Until recently, there have been few memoirs of fatherhood. If you've been hungry to hear someone else's take on the entry into fatherhood, of the struggle to get it right and still to get it wrong, to make space for a new person in your heart and in your home, Cooper's is a voice worth listening to.

    Too many man enter fatherhood without undertanding how vulnerable parenthood may make them feel. And so, when they have scary thoughts, they may think that there's something wrong with them--that they're somehow not equipped for or entitled to fatherhood. 

    It's so important that we share these stories, so fathers can get comfortable with being uncomfortable.