Thursday, August 15, 2013


Children know things.

Children know things
that grown-ups don't.

Children know things
that grown-ups don't
or won't believe.

Children know things
that grown-ups don't
or won't believe--
even if they are told.

Children know things.

What did you know when you were a child?

If you can remember, if you are honest, you knew things that the grown-ups in your life didn't know.

I am not talking abut the monster under your bed that could only be held at bay by holding your breath and counting backwards from 12 to 0 three times.  And I don't mean how we all knew that we had to skip the cracks in the sidewalks or we would break our mothers' backs. Nor am I talking  about how we had to always eat the red foods on our plates first, or it may have been the green ones for you.

No, I am talking abut the big  things we knew as children.
Things on the other side of grown-up reality, things on the margin of possibilities and potentialities.
Things that could and did happen that grownups assured us would never, could never happen.

That is the world that Neil Gaiman taps into again and again in his books.

I just finished reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane. In classic, poetically horrifying Gaiman style, this one, written for adults, addresses some of the same themes as Coraline, which was written for children.
  • Children know and see things that adults do not.
  • Sometimes the adults in children's lives don't/can't hear them or help them
  • Courage may save us 
  • Our actions may also hurt the ones  we care for.
  • We may remember only a bit of what we know as we grow older.

I will always look at water and ponds and oceans differently as a result of this book.  I will look a little more closely at birds and will be terrified each time I have a twinge or ache in my heart.

With pleasure, we return to this world of  half-remembered knowledge with Gaiman, as a  seven-year-old boy begins to learn that his neighbors are not quite what they seem( in a good, but puzzling way), and the world around him has layers, that when peeled back reveal terrifying creatures and events.

I stole every available moment from my life to read this compelling story.

Younger children can explore the world of  Gaiman and the above themes in  The Wolves in the Walls, every bit as terrifying as the above books, again revealing what children know and see...and hear.

What did you know as a child?
What do you remember of that world?

On the flip side,  grown-ups seem to know stuff, too.
Things  that made us as children sit up and take notice.

How did  my mother know when I was five that everyday, I went into the corner store and spent my nickel-my milk money- for a Tootsie Roll?  This forbidden store was the neighborhood hangout for teenagers and the only real soda shop that I have ever been inside.  It looked just like the ones on the 50's sit-coms and movies.

I came home from school one day and she greeted me with How was your milk today?
Things went downhill for me from that point.

Or how did my mother know I had cut my doll's hair (playing beauty shop)?  I insisted that I had just rolled it under.  I guess I wasn't convincing enough or the evidence pointed to the contrary.
Things went downhill for me from that point.

Or what about all the times when teachers knew things my classmates had done--in secret?

Yes, grown-ups seem to have secret knowledge.

They always know how things will turn out-- how a relationship will go, which friends are bad news, what choices would be best for you, and much more.

Grown-ups also have all the answers to the hard questions-- why the sky is blue, how babies are born, why it is cold in the winter and other useful information.

David Wisniewski gives us humorous peek at all that grown-ups know, in The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups.  Written as a collection of classified, top-secret files, this book will delight both adults and children.

He reveals the real,confidential  reasons behind the Grown-Up Rules that most adults impose on children:  Eat Your Vegetables, Comb Your Hair, Don't Jump on the Bed and so on.

What else do adults know ?

 Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

What did you know as a child that grown-ups around you did not know?  This may have been practical knowledge or supernatural knowledge.  Did you ever try to tell an adult what you knew?

What did the grown-ups around you seem to know?  How did they share their knowledge with you?

Write a personal narrative or essay about what you knew as a child or about what grown-ups around you knew.

Write a poem hinting at the knowledge you have now that others may not have.

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