A few Monday’s ago, I read Courageous Gilbert to the school two of my children went to. PK, K, First and Second grades. I had forgotten how squirmy PK’s are and how intense second graders can be. The teachers were so kind and I so thankful to be able to “practice” my presentation. How to start, where to pause, what they found funny and what they were more curious about. Even how to hold a book and not lose my place as I made the appropriate glance out to my curious audience. My oldest son came as my photographer and the teachers and principle couldn’t believe how much he had grown in 13 years, and how fast those 13 years flew.
My editor will be happy to know they loved the part where he shook his head so hard he almost fell off the branch. (Which was her idea.) So now I make an effort to really ham that part up. And they genuinely look concerned for Gilbert as he struggled to stand up to the bully. I liked that part.
I only had about 20 minutes per classroom, which I pretty quickly learned is not long enough for Q & A’s. But I was able to teach the breathing technique before I started and then committed the teachers to finding some time during the day to practice their new skill. I was happy to learn that some were already familiar with it, but some were not.
I found myself really listening to my story and becoming aware of all the friends and family that are in my story. Comments from colleagues about how hard doing our personal work is, instructions to practice what I learn from a teacher, and even hearing ‘I have to go now’ in a dream the night a deceased friend was buried.
As I was reading I remembered how much of me is in this story. The time I froze during my book presentation in 4th grade and had to sit down. How hard it was even in high school to find the ‘right’ friends to sit with at lunch. And then there’s the bullies. I guess all my life I’ve been picked on and was an easy target. Being too nice and all accommodating can bring it on.
I saw some curious faces, some bored faces, and some uncomfortable faces as I read. I wondered was I loud enough, were the illustrations interesting enough, was my message getting across. For my first book, I packed a lot in. However, I didn’t know what to leave out. It all is so important to me. Breathing; some say the answer to most of what ails us, determining where we hold our emotions in our bodies, as that can help us with the psycho spiritual issues we are working on, and how to express our emotions as that can help us navigate our interactions with others. All equally important messages I want to tell the world. For now I’m so thrilled to be reading it and sharing it with our future: KIDS!