I took my car through DEQ to get the tags renewed today. After exchanging pleasantries with the attendant about the weather, I told him he sounded like a true Oregonian because he seemed so accepting of the crazy lamb-lion weather we’ve been having. He bristled. No way. I’m a Californian but I’ve lived here twenty miserable years. Now, he was under my skin. I asked him why he was still here. Money. Is there any other reason to do anything? I suggested love. Then he really laughed. It hasn’t worked out for me. My last wife told me I was too nice. Now I’m to old for love. Is it working for you?
Speechless, I nodded. Yeah, love has been working for me.
The conversation got me thinking about an interview with Maurice Sendak that was rebroadcast after his death a few days ago. His books riled up a lot of people because instead of depicting the sanitized life of “good” children, his stories were full of monsters, fears, and even danger. In the interview, he said that he wrote and drew from his own remembered child’s-eye view.
Were parents then (and maybe now) so afraid of a child’s world that they would deny its existence? Is adulthood so amazing that we think kids should bypass those messy years and get right to it? Ew. My skin crawls. The “adult world” of that guy at DEQ is one I do not want to visit. I guess that’s why I spend my days writing through the eyes of kids and teens. In a child’s world, love works.