SOL 17: Life Lessons

Last weekend, like many of you, I was heartbroken to read Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s devastating essay in the New York Times, “You May Want to Marry My Husband.” Amy is dying of ovarian cancer, and this essay is a love letter to her husband and her wish for his future.

I am a longtime fan of Rosenthal’s wildly creative and imaginative picture books, including Duck, Rabbit and Exclamation Mark (!). Amy’s wisdom and humor are on full display in her TED talks and short videos. I love them all, but I think “Book-Filled House” and “Kindness Thought Bubble” are my favorites.

In “Thought Bubble: Kindness,” Amy asks viewers, “What have you filled the world with?” She reminds us that “more positive human interactions is central to a meaningful life.” It’s a reminder worth repeating and sharing.

With these words in my mind, I went searching for my copy of the completely charming Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons (HarperCollins, 2006). These lessons arise out of the steps of making and sharing a batch of cookies. Every negative impulse is balanced by a positive response, and in the end readers are filled up with love and wisdom.

And so it was that this book was sitting on my desk this morning when a first grade student arrived in my room with a very long face. He has struggled and made slow progress since the beginning of the year. “What’s wrong?” I asked. He explained that he’d had a run in with another student during P.E, and had gotten in trouble. I knew my lesson would be wasted if I just went ahead. So I pulled out Cookies and began reading. By the time we got to this page, he was smiling and agreed it would be better to be optimistic than pessimistic.

We finished the book and he was ready to learn. He worked hard and had fun reading the poem and book I had chosen for the day. A serving of kindness was just what he needed.

Thank you, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, for this and all your lovely book, and thank you for filling the world with your love and light.

Thank you to StaceyBetsyBeth, KathleenDeb, MelanieLisa and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories every day in March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

9 thoughts on “SOL 17: Life Lessons

  1. Oh goodness! I have been hearing lots about this devastating essay. One of my favorite books ever is her Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. I can’t wait to make some connections between that book and this essay, and then to make some tissues my BFFs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t tell you how much I LOVE this post, Catherine. I wonder if there is a way to share it with Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She continues to impact the lives of others in ways she’ll never know. Your student is so lucky to have you looking out for him, sharing a book in such a healing way. I think I’m going to stop reading blogs tonight because I want to just savor this one.
    thank you.

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  3. I share all your emotions. I might own all of her books but her adult and children’s books. I had the pleasure of meeting her a few times when I lived in Chicago. What a gifted writer and what a gift she gave us all.

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  4. Serendipity, Catherine. How fortunate that little guy was uplifted by an author’s words.My favorite line – “A serving of kindness was just what he needed.” I too read that “letter” from Amy – my heart in my throat… What a beautiful gift to leave. It motivates me even more to take on this challenge and power though the daily pursuit to uncover and write my family’s memories.

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  5. I share your reactions to the essay and news from this weekend, but I did not know about her videos-thank you for sharing! How lucky for this little boy to have you-willing to break from the plan to see what he really needed in that moment. You truly exemplified the message in the ThoughtBubble:Kindness video.

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  6. It is heartbreaking news and I was so sad to read her words after her other words have filled our lives with smiles. You’ve turned a moment of thought for her into a triumph for her and for that young boy. It’s a wonderful slice, Catherine.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I believe Amy’s kindness will be with us a long time. I, too, am so saddened by her illness. I’m glad you were able to share joy today.

    Liked by 1 person

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