It was by far one of my favorite parts of this journey we’ve been on. Seeing the kids' faces, hearing their thoughts, seeing the pride in my son’s eyes… It’s all too much to put in words, but I’m going to try nevertheless.
Our wonderful teacher has been talking to our kids about art, artists, and the different ways in which we express ourselves, be it through dance, song, books, paintings, and so on. I’ve been to my son’s class many times, and many times as a mystery reader like all the other parents (every week, one parent volunteers to surprise all the kids with a book of her or his choice). But this time, I was there as the author of the book I was reading, which apparently, meant a lot to them. Some of them didn’t believe me at first when I told them I had written the book. Others simply ignored the information and later asked me who’d written it, asking me if I was serious when I said I had.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy that. But what I enjoyed more was hearing the kids’ thoughts on Oliver, the way he was in the beginning of the story, and on his “transformation” throughout. The first thing I observed was how easy it can be to filter out the highly sensitive kids in the class (roughly 20% every time). They immediately understood why Oliver behaved the way he did. They could relate to Oliver and smiled at the end when they saw him be brave. You could tell that they knew just what it took to be able to do some of the things that come so easily to most. And best of all, they explained to me why and how Oliver managed to do what he did towards the end.
The rest of the class was very quick to jump up and say, “I love noisy places!”
I can’t say I didn’t expect it. It was clearly a point-of-pride for them, and understandably so. How powerful it is to be able to function and be happy in such an overwhelming environment, at least that’s how we sensitives see it. What I didn’t expect however, is that they kept listening closely and with interest, and somewhere towards the end, many of them seemed to suddenly relate. After all, we are all sensitive, some of us more than others, and some to certain things rather than others. All of us, at some point, have felt overwhelmed by the world we live in, and all of us have had to build up the courage to face our fears and start enjoying ourselves. Even my audience of 6-year-olds knew that.
I have since read All Too Much for Oliver to several classes, and have a few more to visit in the near future. It’s been heart-warming, enlightening, inspiring, wonderful! And nothing has been more rewarding than the gleaming smile on my son’s face when I read the book to his friends, and his words as I was walking out of the classroom: