Today I visited a teacher supply shop with my children. We weren't there very long, but it reminded me of long hours spent in these stores with my mom when I was young. My mom, like all good teachers, spent much of her own time and money on preparing her classroom. If you totaled up how much she spent on bulletin board supplies alone, it would probably be enough to pull a third-world country out of poverty.
Anyway, I shared this recollection with my children on the way home. Here's how my conversation played out with my five-year old daughter.
After driving away from the store, I said, "My mom was so good with children. I wish you could have known her."
"Is your mom already dead?" Maggie asked.
"Yes," I replied. "My mom died about seven years ago." Tears started pooling. I didn't realize the memory would be sentimental.
"Well," Maggie said. "That's sad that your mom died. But it's good that you don't have to go to those stores anymore."
My tears immediately morphed into laughter. My daughter has always been very matter-of-fact when death is the subject. In fact, her sincere response encapsulates one of the main reasons I am drawn to writing for children. Children see the world so clearly. Their interactions with each other and with adults aren't veiled by years of social formation. A child can voice in one sentence what a grown-up has been trying to convey his/her whole life. What a gift.