This month’s read aloud HOW THE MANX CAT LOST ITS TAIL (retold and illustrated by Janet Stevens) is a lively retelling of an old story from the Isle of Man, that not only explains how the Manx cat lost its tail in the door of Noah’s Ark, but also explains how Noah’s wife is the only person who “knows” the proper way to call a cat.
I love pondering this whole notion of KNOWING, especially in this fast paced digital age of google and Wikipedia that often lures us into a false sense of KNOWING, that in turn, often results in us forgetting how to tap into our inner core of human wisdom.
I wonder too about how many of us KNOW certain things because of the culture we are born into? My favorite quote about being Irish is,
“To be Irish is to KNOW that in the end the world will break your heart.”
Seems somewhat maudlin perhaps, especially to the American sensibility, but, as I often explain to my husband (an American) it is not that we Celts are miserable people – far from it – but rather that we are born knowing that in this life Sorrow will always be a sister to Joy, that loving involves loss and pain, but if we enter into the sadness that assails us, if we name it and own it, then we are all the more able to muddle through and see the rainbow over the horizon.
What do we want our children to KNOW about sadness? Of course, it depends upon their age and circumstances, but as Katherine Paterson maintains, good stories are a great way for children to get “practice” for life. Better that they experience the sadness of death in a story first before they have to experience it in real life.
Stories, then, GOOD stories can help our children KNOW sadness in a good way. This is the kind of KNOWING that seeps slowly into the heart and soul – the kind of KNOWING our children crave.