Monday, October 29, 2007

Keep Your Sun Up In The Rain

Before I picked up The Mayor and The Rooster, I stopped by the library for another arm load of award winning children's books in an effort to keep the Repetitive Reading Stress Disorder at bay.

["Clifford is a big, red, doggggabub bub bub bub..."]

One of the books I picked up was The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordecai Gerstein which tells the true story of Phillipe Petit's 1974 tight rope walk between the World Trade Center Towers.





Having grown up in New York, K remembers this happening.




The Mayor was completely stimulated by Petit's story, but he was disturbed by the ending.

The second to last page shows an illustration of the New York skyline without the towers and simply reads,

"Now the towers are gone."

The Mayor became distressed.

"Why? Why are they gone, Mommy?" he asked in a wavering voice.

((How am I going to explain this one?? I wondered.))

I told him that airplanes crashed into the towers and that the buildings caught fire and burned to the ground.

(I thought that was taking it far enough for a three year old.)

His brow wrinkled and his fingertips brushed against the picture of the sky where the towers should have been.

I lost him to his thoughts for a moment.

"Mommy," he asked, "did this happen when I was still a dream?"

"Yes, Mayor."

"Why was I just a dream then?"

"Before you were born you were part of the sky. You were made of wind and rain and sunshine," I told him.

A smile spread slowly across his face.

"Do you know what would happen if I kept my sunshine up in the rain?"

"What?" I asked.

"A rainbow!"

According to the Talmud, an angel teaches an unborn baby all the wisdom of the universe.

Just before birth the angel touches the baby between the upper lip and the nose and the child forgets all that was taught.

The angel's touch keeps the secrets of heaven safe and leaves the groove we wear above our upper lips.

I like that idea... but I don't always believe the baby forgets everything right away.

Surely it must take some time to forget all that redemption.


97 comments:

Mary G said...

That is just gorgeous. I love the quote and your take on it. And, oh my, I am with you on Clifford et al. Yuck.

NotAMeanGirl said...

That... was awesome. Kids really DO know more than we do sometimes!

Rimarama said...

I don't think they forget, either. Children are wise (and the Mayor is a case in point.)

slouching mom said...

Oh! How lovely.

slouching mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dory said...

*goosebumps*

Amanda said...

Somehow, children always seem to know more than we give them credit for. Perhaps it really is from that Angel.

Katrina said...

I always told my children that babies are born with the knowledge of the universe. As they learn to speak to us, they lose the language of that knowledge and replace it with ours. I love this post.

TX Poppet said...

Sweetness. Pure sweetness.

Aliki2006 said...

I'm with you--I can't imagine a baby ever forgets all that.

This was beautiful--food for the soul, indeed.

Jenifer said...

Repetitive Reading Disorder? I am so with you on that one...we try really hard to read something different each night.

Isn't it amazing where their little minds can lead us?

Virtualsprite said...

It's always so amazing to me how perceptive young children are. Some of the things that come out of my kids' mouths just floor me. In a good way.

That just brought tears to my eyes... in the good way. Simply beautiful.

motherbumper said...

oh my goodness, that is so wonderfully perfect - in every which way.

And I just love the name Mordecai when looking for a great writer.

dawn224 said...

Oh! Tears! Oh!

jeanie said...

I remember reading Disney Babies ABC just after 911. For T, the babies are in a sand pit - the T stood for towers, which were built in the sand - and one of the baby's was circling a toy plane - a very weird coincidence.

I love his - and your - analogies.

flutter said...

heavens you are in a mode to steal my breath lately

mimikatemom said...

I can't wait until the Mayor can WRITE!

I always tell my girls I carried them in my heart before they grew in my belly; just like they are carrying their someday babies in their hearts.

:)

Mrs. Davis said...

I discovered that book last fall, the same year we first discussed 9/11 with our oldest son (6 at the time). It is a fabulous book.

And to answer your earlier question, yes! Let's get in touch soon.

CamiKaos said...

beautiful.

Deb said...

You have a very wise liitle boy. It amazes me how kids can know so much. It also speaks wonders of your parenting, horizontal or otherwise

liv said...

Nice one, sweetie.

Marmite Breath said...

Beautiful post, Jess. I love that book, it was weird and wonderful. I love the Mayor too.

Serina Hope said...

The Mayor is indeed a wise one. this was lovely.

Veronica said...

That is just beautiful.

Sarcastic Mom (aka Lotus) said...

Ugh! What's this damn lump in my throat?

Avery Gray said...

What a bright little boy! You must be very proud.

urban-urchin said...

Beautifully put J. It reminds me of
my favorite quote regarding babies:
"It's no small thing that those who are so fresh from God, love us."
Charles Dickens

carrie said...

I'm at a loss.

Those kids of yours, and you teach me more lessons when I stop by here than a lifetime could.

Thank you.

JCK said...

What a lovely, lovely answer to give The Mayor. I love that story from the Talmud. I also think they hold on to some of that information for a while longer - and see things that maybe we can't quite see.

And going to the library rocks! I love doing that with BOY & GIRL. Clifford the big red dummy...

You know you might want to write a children's book. I can see the lines on the page now...

Adventures in Baby Fat said...

This was post was lovely.

I, frankly, would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't had to look at the tightrope walker between the buildings. Reading and feeling your retelling of that would have been easier if my stomach had dropped into my ankles.

Thalia's Child said...

That was a beautiful post.

And I agree - I have seen the wisdom of ages in a child's eyes.

Family Adventure said...

This is just lovely, Joy. Even the pictures are amazing (not having grown up in the US), and the story is so poignant.

And kids do have an amazing insight sometimes. It does make you wonder...

Heidi

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Love what you said to the Mayor.

We have "Mirette on the High Wire" which is fiction but also a great little read.

My hands were sweating just looking at the cover of that book, so great is my fear of heights.

Jo Beaufoix said...

I'm sure they hold on to some of that knowledge.
Sometimes what comes out of there mouths is just stunning and they have no idea.

~JJ! said...

It's not the baby who forgets, it's the world we live in that makes him forget...

I wish we could ALL help them remember...this place might not be so scary if we could.

What a wise little man.

Mary Alice said...

That is a beautiful concept and suddenly brought to mind something my parents talked about years ago. My grandfather died before my birth and his last words were, "I wonder what will become of me?" according to my parents my first sentence was "I wonder why?"
I think the veil between this world and the next is very thin for those little ones still so fresh from it.

ImpostorMom said...

Beautiful post. You have such wonderful children, so wise and sweet. And such a wonderful mother as well.

Mrs. Chicken said...

this made me cry. and I think you must be right.

kristen said...

This is a beautiful post. And The Man Who Walked Between the Towers is a wonderful wonderful book. It has been in our home library for a couple of years. My husband also remembers the man who walked between the towers, and we explained 9/11 to our son in exactly the same way you did. He's thoughtful about it and aware and I think that's a good thing.

Thank you for sharing the story from the Talmud--what a lovely way to think of heaven and angels and little babies before they are born.

Shelli said...

I've always said that my son possesses more wisdom than I. So innocent and pure are the words of a child.

Patience said...

I believe Mayor is a very wise child!

Anonymous said...

You have such a gift for beautiful, soulful living and writing. Your blog helped me through the past 5 months of cancer treatments. I laughed, I cried...its the feel-good blog of the year. Thank you, and bless you.

Karen Forest said...

Oh! How beautiful...

It is so amazing how much they truly understand. In fact, many times, it is them teaching us.

jakelliesmom said...

Sometimes, I wish I saw the world through the eyes of your child. Beautiful, beautiful words.

WILLIAM said...

Made of wind rain and sunchine? Whatever happened to snakes and snails and puppy dog tails?

-The Shiny Happy Mama- said...

Beautiful. Every word of it.

cronznet said...

Happiest Sigh!
My daily Life Support System yesterday was about remembering to laugh in the hard times. I like the phrasing of keepin' my sun up in the rain even better!

Jen said...

Your little one sounds very wise. It certainly doesn't sound like he's forgotten it all. What a lovely story.

Anonymous said...

They are amazing the children of today...of course they get their terrific brains from you..but it's my theory that each generation gets smarter...that post, was just lovely...I wait each day for something wonderful from you and you always knock me out...

mauniejames

Heidi Hyde said...

I think this is one of the best pieces I've read. Beautiful, and poignant, and really lovely.

What a special child you have, and what a talented writer you are.

-HH

Suz said...

Really beautiful. What a lovely thing to read in the morning.

we_be_toys said...

I love the idea of "Keep Your Sun Up In The Rain" - out of the mouths of babes, eh? I'm going to hang on to that idea - its such a great mantra. Its very affirming to me that you are also a believer in the wisdom of children. I think respecting their intelligence from the beginning produces fabulous kids (and reading something other than Clifford doesn't hurt either!)- great post!

Mrs. Chicky said...

Ooh, I like that story.

newnorth said...

that was really sweet. I had never heard that about the angel. My older brother had a dimple on his chin and all the grownups would tease him and say it was from angel's kiss. I was just a little jealous.

The Empty Nest said...

Beautiful post. Thank you for a moment of wonder in my day.

Misty Dawn said...

Oh, this is so beautiful!

Jennifer said...

Beautiful. Ah, beautiful.

Shannon said...

Apparently the Angel didn't leave her finger on the Mayor's lip long enough. He let free a bit of wisdom.

Steph said...

I believe that babies remember their life before this one and that they gradually forget so they don't spill the sacred secrets that are Heaven. Some remember for longer though...as your Mayor has proven. :)
Aren't children so sweet and innocent and smart!?
Thank you for that! Great post!

Not The Mama said...

Absolutely gorgeous. What a sweet, wise spirit he has.

furiousBall said...

there are so many times you read to them and they just go to bed. but then there's times like this when they shake you from the routine and you hear the wisdom that they don't even really understand. this is why we read to our kids. good for you amiga, you rock

Amy said...

This is wonderful. Sweet as can be!

I need to know what the Talmud says about death. Guess I'll Google that when I can today. I would like to tell my daughter about the babies but unfortunately I need the other bookend this week - what happens when we lose them too soon.

Lori- Fairytales & Margaritas said...

I love this. I love the wisdom of your children, and what you do with it. You always seem to have the right thing to say!

Mimi aka pz5wjj said...

So beautiful! Your son is so wise and wonderful!

wordgirl said...

Lovely story. Just...lovely.

Jenny said...

So beautiful.

Tabba said...

wow. what an amazing post.

lovely, J.

BOSSY said...

You had Bossy at 'Before'. How do you do it, Joys - all those great words lined up like that, and all those smarts behind them.

Jodi said...

When my younger son was about 2 1/2 he said something, I don't even remember what. I asked him about the comment and he said, "That was a long time ago, before I was born. I was an old man." He said something similar later. Like, "That was when I was someone else." Creeped me right out.

Emily said...

I hadn't heard that about the lip, before. Lovely.

That is one of my 10 y.o. daughter's favorite books. She remember's 9/11. It was cathartic for her to associate something exciting and happy with the towers, I think.

Heather, Queen of Shake-Shake said...

I don't believe they forget it all either.

LOVE this post!

Stepping Over the Junk said...

I love that. I cant believe it ends with "the towers are gone". You handle it perfectly. I will be calling you when I need some help explaining things to my kids that are hard.

kittenpie said...

Oh. Now that IS a joy. What a beautiful moment. What a lovely post about it.

Chantelle said...

What a beautiful post. I am still smiling to myself.

Jen M. said...

Beautiful.

a happier girl said...

Very sweet. My stepmother died recently. We had to explain that she died so we told our 3 year old she was in heaven with the angels. At the funeral home, upon seeing the casket, she asked me if that was heaven. Sometimes life is really hard to explain.

Jenny Ryan said...

That is beautiful. Thank you.

Jenn said...

I don't think that they forget, ever.

It's that little voice in all of us; the knowledge of something, something we just can't place our fingers on, and then we gently touch our finger to our lips and the spot above, wondering.

WhyMommy said...

Oh, I needed to hear this today. Just this morning, three of us moms were reflecting on that awful, awful day. Back then, we were all working women, young and on fire and so close -- too close -- to the Pentagon and anthrax attacks. We thought we had let it go. But I'm not sure that we really ever will.

Kyla said...

Perfectly lovely.

Anna said...

So moving and so real.

And I am SO with you on the mind numbing repetition of the books. Give me new books! Any new books!

Bastet said...

That was both beautiful and inspiring!

heather said...

This is..... amazing. I don't even know what to say. I certainly cried, and I am so touched. My little Aodin is sunshine and rain.

Thank you for a beautiful mental image.

mama c said...

i heart this.

laundrylessons said...

Lovely. I used to tell my kids they were "twinkles" in God's eyes before they were born.

baby~amore' said...

Brillant post ! The Mayor is wise beyond years .

metalia said...

I'm speechless. This is gorgeous.

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

Please don't ever stop telling these wonderful stories.

Hol&J said...

Beautiful, it gave me chills.

painted maypole said...

"Surely it must take some time to forget all that redemption."

oh... and we spend a lifetime trying to learn it again.

beautiful

Aimee Greeblemonkey said...

You rock.

Damselfly said...

Sweet idea, and I love what you and the Mayor have to say about it.

Lawyer Mama said...

Ah, a perfect, perfect moment.

Little Monkies said...

This is simply one of the most beautiful things you've ever written.

love to you, my friend.

Mrs. T said...

The very conversation you had with him proves that they don't lose all that knowledge right away. They are so very wise, the young.
(I love that Dickens quote, too!)

Mel said...

Oh, that beautiful, beautiful brilliant boy.
You lucky mama, you.

(As an aside: Bloglines just updated FOUR POSTS from you today, 11/2. Will comment bomb now.)

kellypea said...

Absolutely lovely. They grow up so very, very fast. I just packed the last of my youngest's picture books away, but I kept a few of the favorites where I could look at them once in a while just to remember times like these.