My morals have ruined me

I’ve gotten it into my head lately that I want to write children’s stories. Not typical children’s stories but ones like The Giving Tree and Stone Soup. Stories that I’ve remembered from childhood, almost clear as the day I read them. I couldn’t tell you what they said verbatim, but I can see their pictures and words in my head if I try to recall them. I think that says a lot.

Image result for goodnight moon

I made a series of books recently that dealt with my mom and her recent return home. It’s been weird. Lots of swirling emotions going on. I still don’t have a clear thing to write about it yet BUT I do have a semi funny anecdote about the ways in which my mother manipulated me into being a horribly moral person. I say that with a smile. I love that I’m this way but it also plays into my paranoia and anxiety about getting into trouble (incarcerated parent issues) so that sort of compounds itself in unpleasant ways at times.

As I’m doing my research into “stories that teach children moral lessons”, I’ve stumbled upon something quite interesting. Several websites will direct you to moralistic reading lists for children. Except there’s one clear similarity in my mind amongst every list I’ve perused tonight: I’ve read all of them.

Image result for no good horrible very bad day

At first, the lists included a few familiar tales and then I kept searching. What I’ve found is a website that lists almost identically, the stories and books I read as a child. Even really obscure ones. Knowing my mother, she did this either completely intentionally or entirely on accident. I’m going to ask her tomorrow at lunch. I think she did it on purpose, but there’s some part of me that wonders too. Sometimes, there’s books that we just all want kids to read like Dr. Seuss or The Giving Tree because the stories are so sweet and innately good. They’re simple and the images aren’t too complicated. But I also wonder if that’s because we loved them and they shaped us growing up but we aren’t aware of it, or if we look back and know that we’re intentionally shaping these children and their values/morals by giving them these treasured classics? I know that in a school setting, teachers are probably doing it intentionally. At home though, are our parents?

I’m going to the library soon. I know that 9/10 of these books will be there and I don’t need to buy my research on children’s books. But jeez louise! I’d wondered why I was always so honest, brave, unafraid, and accepting. When I was growing up, reading was held in the  highest regard. My mom would sit with us as we watched tv, reading her paperback mystery novels and painting her nails. I can’t remember her sitting in that chair without a book in her hand. When she’d yelled at me or gotten mad at something I’d done, she’d send me to my room and I distinctly remember a few times where I’d purposely place an opened book across my stomach and pretend to have fallen asleep reading it. It was almost like I wanted to shove it in her face that I was a good daughter and she’d been wrong for punishing me. I think I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder, I just forgot how young it started.

Image result for stone soup story

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July 4th, Independence Day

This is my last post as a prisoner’s daughter. Sort of.

As I walked back to my dorm, the sounds of fireworks popping off around me, the smell of the sprinklers charging the dirt with water, I realized I would be picking her up in the morning. I drove up to Fresno for this summer arts program and it was the first time I’d been on the drive in two years almost. I told her I didn’t want to visit her anymore in the institution because she would be out so soon and other family was going, but mostly because it’s the most emotionally painful thing I’ve ever really done. It literally feels like a hot iron has been glued to your heart and as it’s pulled away, pieces of yourself get ripped back with it.

So I drove to Fresno for this arts program and cried the whole way.

Tomorrow morning, less than 10 hours from now, she’ll be free.

Tomorrow morning, less than 10 hours from now, I’ll be free.

I’ve been forced to keep her at a distance, keep my feelings at a distance for so long. Tomorrow, I won’t have to do that anymore.

I have so much more to say and yet, right now, that’s all I keep thinking: how foreign and alien the concept of closeness and vulnerability (with regard to her) is to me.

I can’t wait to wake up.

Charlotte I think I’ve posted this with you in mind before

For the love of a tree,

she went out on a limb.

For the love of the sea,

she rocked the boat.

For the love of the earth,

she dug deeper.

For the love of community,

she mended fences.

For the love of the stars,

she let her light shine.

For the love of spirit,

she nurtured her soul.

For the love of a good time,

she sowed seeds of happiness.

For the love of God,

she drew down the moon.

For the love of nature,

she made compost.

For the love of a good meal,

she gave thanks.

For the love of family,

she reconciled differences.

For the love of creativity,

she entertained new possibilities.

For the love of her enemies,

she suspended judgment.

For the love of herself,

she acknowledged her own worth.

And the world was richer for her.

Charlotte Tall Mountain (July 1, 1941 to May 6, 2006) was an artist and poet of an Iroquois Native American heritage.