for my wild thing.

For Atticus, because Maurice Sendak died.

Dear Atticus,

We adults remember details from childhood: the late afternoon sun slanting through the windows, summer twilight in the yard, measuring the snow with a yardstick. We forget, sometimes, how scary childhood can be. Even if you feel safe in the home your dad and I have created, you will, one day, learn about betrayal and bigotry. You will feel fear and isolation when you realize how the decisions other people make affect you.

It feels wild, this lack of control.

There are wild things in the world. Sometimes they are monsters that will not be tamed. Sometimes they are as beautiful and free as the wild geese. Sometimes they are both. The wildness can be frightening.

Adults will tell you not to be afraid, because we want to make things simple for you. Instead, I want to tell you to be brave. It’s okay to be afraid. But push back at the fear. Embrace a little wildness. Taste freedom. Recognize that some things are out of your control. Have faith. Know hope. Listen to the foolishness of love. Make mischief of one kind and another. (You are good at this already.)

I can’t tell you that you will be safe, won’t tell you that everything will be okay. I wish the wild things weren’t all around us. I wish we could simply go to where the wild things are and then return again, dinner still waiting. But I will tell you that the feeling you get when you face the wild things, walking (or even rumpusing) through them, is empowering. I want you to taste that wildness for yourself, to learn how strong you can be.

Be brave, my sweet boy. Your dad and I will keep your dinner warm for you.


wild thing.

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