Well, our traditional Parents’ Days have passed, at least in the United States, and I thought I would take the time to write-up a short post on some books that fall into categories that are not often addressed directly in Children’s Literature; but, are essential, nonetheless.
We label sailing as a sport but as one sails the longer journey, it becomes so much more. They hear the sails and water against the hull just as the ancient mariners did thousands of years ago. The motion of the boat and the visuals connect us to something much larger. It can bring peace, tranquility and more.
I can’t teach all you need to know about to help you inoculate the children in your care against pessimism and depression in this short essay, but I can explain the foundations of Martin E.P. Seligman’s work, what optimism is, why it’s important, how you might measure it, and a little of how you might nurture it.
On the right, a Christmas tree. Old fashioned bubble lights mostly working, a couple of snowball lights already out, Hallmark ornaments galore. On the left, what can only be termed an eclectic Bethlehem. The nativity scene set up in the front, with an old school New England flower shop, a gasoline station, an observatory and a lighthouse surrounding it.
At aged six or so, my dreams began as I disappeared through the headboard of my bed. My headboard was made of black, shiny plastic, think patent leather, but cheaper, with a mirror like surface. I thought I could make out my reflection. Like Alice, but before I’d heard of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, I’d somehow slip from my bed into an alternate world in my headboard’s reflection.
So why am I so thoroughly disappointed in this book? It comes down to a few choices made to erase Anthony’s racism in the supplemental materials included in the back of the book.
While it is actively noted that Anthony and her friend/fellow activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton started the suffrage movement in conjunction with their involvement in the abolition movement, there is no mention of the subsequent rift between the two movements over Anthony’s bitterness that the Fifteenth Amendment was making greater headway than women’s suffrage. No mention of the racist speeches Anthony made, or her chosen alliances with George Train (“Woman first and negro last.”), or avowed white supremacists like Belle Kearney.
This book is visually stunning, as should be expected from Love. There is enough detail in her gorgeously rendered pages to get swept away in the melodies of her drawings. There is a grace to her artwork that draws beauty from the line between detail and abstraction. No finer example is found than the “mermaid tree” where our pair are ultimately found.
The tennis great Arthur Ashe said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” It is a perfect life lesson to be sure, and I wish I had that quote as motto when I was coaching soccer, both for myself and for my kids. But tennis, better than any other sport I know, reliably rewards that mindset.
In all the team sports (and most of life), kids like me struggle with the sensation of being out of place. Putting a team together, in baseball, softball football and soccer almost always results in participants who at least half the time feel inadequate. A few will revel in stardom, and now and again someone like my Romanian team member, a soccer savant, will appear in a league that offers no challenge at all.
If you’re like me, all discussions of sports begin with trauma. Growing up, I was that cliché, the pudgy kid picked last for every team. My signature sports moment came around fifth grade when the little league team I played on (as the kid in left field who couldn’t catch a fly ball) designated me to be traded to the first-place team. If you’re an athlete, this might strike you as good news. But our league had a practice of making the teams more competitive at midseason by trading the worst player from the last place team (my team) for the best player from the first-place team. Imagine the ignominy of meeting your new teammates: “Hi, I’m here to ruin your chances.”