children’s stories

chinese childI was trying to write a children’s story. I wasn’t any good at it.

My language was too dense.
My thoughts, too dull.
My words too extreme.
My heart, too full.

Because you see…

Life is hard, children. And we make it that way. We grow from you — so innocent, wide-eyed, full of joy — and turn into…? Monsters. We are monsters, children. Everyone one of us. Even the best of us. Monsters.

We are selfish and vicious.
We lie and we cheat.
We compete and we slander.
We stomp and we beat… others.

Some of us kill people. Some of us think about killing people. We look at someone who’s different and see not our own likeness but someone to judge. Or someone who’s hurt us. Or someone who would.

And so we build walls.
And so we tell lies.
We want something more,
but “more” always flies.

So stories are tough, kids.
Most stories are mean.
They’re things that we’ve hoped for,
not things that we’ve seen.

And yet…

Yet it’s up to us, kids.
It’s not up to you.
If we can’t fix this world,
how can we ask you?
Note: I started writing this after reading several disturbing news stories. Sometimes I don’t know what would be better — to bury my head in the sand and block out the world’s failings, or to keep up with what’s going on. Clearly not all people are monsters the way I suggested above, but sometimes it sure does feel that way. Also, this may be one of the worst, most disjointed poems I’ve ever written. Probably because it didn’t start out as or get edited as one. It was also written on my way to go mountain biking… and just… came out this way.

36 thoughts

  1. Life can be pretty bleak. Especially when you see the world ahead for the next generation. I have to think there enough of us there to give them hope and courage.

    • Yes, Terri. We must lead by example. It’s for those children who have no example, or who have terrible examples, that I worry. Jesus just needs to hurry up and come soon.

  2. I actually like this poem a lot. It’s so honest and has to much truth to it. The real world is a hard, deceitful place. A lot of the time, we’d do almost anything – lie, cheat, steal – to keep our head above water and basically survive…sometimes we do so to show love to others.

    Indeed there are some of us who are just so self-centred, greedy and selfish. But I don’t think many of them are truly happy with the way they live…or don’t know what true happiness is. Nothing we can do but mind our own business.

    Hope you’re well, Jess :)

    • I agree with most of what you said, Mabel. I think what our actions should be towards others who aren’t living a good life is somewhat situational, however. If I *know* someone is doing something wrong to someone else, or is hurting themself, or whatever, I just might step in. It all depends on the context.

      Thank you always for your kind words. Happy — what is it there? — Tuesday!!

      • So true. Sometimes someone needs a helping hand, and they might not even know that.

        Tuesday. Going on Wednesday as I’m typing this. Hope you are doing well!

  3. There are certainly some monsters out there. Who knows where they come from? I think it’s good to express our darker side. Only when it’s expressed can we air it out and feel our way through it. Maybe see some light on the other side.

    • Good to air our darker side… Hmm. I’ll have to think about that, Matt. I definitely think, as others have suggested, that it’s NOT a good idea to ignore our darker side, that’s for sure. We need to nail negativity, selfishness, etc. head on or else it could easily take over… But that’s easier said than done.

  4. I’ve always thought that we need to know about the monsters. Burying our heads in the sand shouldn’t be an option. And the way we who aren’t monsters combat the monsters is to focus on the good and the beauty and the incredibly great things that are all around us.

  5. To the question of monsters, I’d like to respond. I think you’re right that we all are, or all have, monsters. The crime isn’t being a monster, per se;,the crime is in pretending we don’t. When you can truthfully acknowledge the potential you have to make the world ugly and miserable, only then are you able to do the opposite if you choose and make the necessary efforts to do so.
    People are otherwise clueless about how to make good things and things good. Ignoring, denying your own monster means you aren’t truthful with yourself (and by extension, others). Any acts deemed “good” in such motivation are hollow and worthless. For you and everyone else.
    If you can’t acknowledge your own monster, you have no way of knowing what good can rectify his wrongs.

    • I fully agree, Matt. Also, judging others is one of the WORST possible things we can do. (In most cases. Clearly some people do some things so wrong that there is no excuse. In that case, judgment isn’t even necessary. All you have to say is, “Ew.”) But the truth is: we need to focus on our own demons before we can look at anyone else.

  6. i feel the same way. i get torn as to whether id rather be blissfully ignorant to the happenings around the world or be completely emersed and saddened by real events. i tend to flip flop where for weeks i will completely ignore the news. and then pick it back up again only to wonder why?? this was awesome Jessica!! it was real. and moving. and true. and sometimes it doesnt have to always be so happy like we feel in our hearts. we know it is no demonstration of your soul =) xo whit

    • Glad to know I’m not alone, Whitney! It really is a fine line. To be sad or to be ignorant? Which is better? Sometimes I don’t know. And thank you for the kind words about the poem. It is definitely from my heart, and I’m glad you could tell. Hope your week is off to a great start! :)

  7. Strongly put. Overstated? Maybe for some, not for many. Writing is most effective when it affects the reader. This was very affecting.
    I pray (really, not just using that word as an expression of hope) that I have the wisdom and the love to make a difference in the lives of those children around me who may only know monsters….and that the monster in me doesn’t get out too often :-)
    Keep writing Jess. Rough, unedited, “dumped on the page” is best.

    • You’re no monster, Dad. You are the exception to this poem. ;)

      Even still, I don’t think it was overstated. It’s easy to look at the news and think, “Yuck!” But, as other readers and Christ have said, we need first to look at ourselves before we worry about anyone else.

  8. Great poem ~ but I like you tackling the cold, harsh world better :-) With children, and with life really, keeping it simple works. Happiness. A happy child will turn into a happy adult and that is really all we can do (and all we can ask of them or any individual). As a mass/group/movement, we can move mountains and change the world ~ but as individual, I tend to keep it as simple and positive as possible.
    Wish you well!

    • Thank you, Randall. But so much of our happiness as a child, or our understanding of the world, comes from factors out of our control — the people who raise us, the environment we grow up in, etc. Every time I turn on the news I see something disgusting, appalling, amoral. And I wonder how we got here? If every person took a really close, honest look at themselves and thought about the true meaning of happiness before doing any action, the whole world would benefit.

      I wish you well, too. Always. :)

      • So true, but in a sense, we are what we focus on ~ which is why focusing on simple happiness for children is a way to let them in on the “good” so they will have it in their quiver should it be needed. Cheers to a great week!

  9. The poem is born of painful realities, so don’t worry about it feeling disjointed. Actually, I didn’t feel it was disjointed at all. It resolves beautifully. Jesus said we must become like children to receive the kingdom of God. Children have the answer to this worlds problems. It is love without discrimination, without selfishness, without ambition, without hatred, without prejudice, without envy, without competition. Children are the answer. Many blessings for you!

  10. In some ways, the past really was not so easy. Famines, disease, and massacres have been carried out since recorded history began. I think the big difference is our double edge sword; our connectedness. If this was 1935, we would not know if people were being killed off by a government in Africa. You only knew what was going on in your geographic location. Now we see everything and it is in our face.

    Another problem of our freedom today is our ability to harm more people than one could do in the past. Now we can go online and under a veil of anonymity; show animosity towards others.

    On a more positive note, we also have the power to connect to people we would never met in the past. We have the power to lift someone else in a far away place with a few strokes of a keyboard. So the kids have that going for them.

    Have a great week Jessica!

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