Friday, September 4, 2009

Filled up with a Feeling

At the dinner table yesterday, Hedgie was telling Sarge about our afternoon at the Museum of Modern Art.

Hedgie: We had lunch in the cafeteria, and I had the children's meal, a peanut butter banana and nutella panini and apple slices. There was just the right amount of nutella so that it oozed out the sides but not too much. And there were three slices of apple, and they were very crisp and sweet. They really know what children like. And we saw an exhibit called "Waste Not."

(We described the exhibit to Sarge and then Hedgie was silent)

Hedgie: Mama cried from it, while we were walking through. It's so embarrassing when you guys cry like that! Like how you cried, daddy, when you showed me that part of "Diva" with the opera singer.

(more silence)

Sarge: Do you know why grown-ups cry like that, Hedgie?

Hedgie: No.

Sarge: It's because we're filled up with a feeling we have--

Hedgie: and you have to let it out?

Sarge: Well, no, it just has to come out, even if we try to hold it in. Like laughter, it's the same thing. Sometimes it comes out as crying, sometimes as laughing. Just two different sides of a feeling that has to come out.

Hedgie: Why do you have the feeling?

Sarge: I don't know. Sometimes with a song or a piece of art, maybe it reminds us of another time or place, or a person who isn't with us anymore...

Hedgie: I guess I can understand that. But it's still embarrassing.

Filled up with a feeling--I so often am. I long ago gave up trying to hide honest tears from Hedgehog. I couldn't anyway, as Sarge says--sometimes it just has to come out.

here's the art that made me cry: "Waste Not" by Song Dong; also an explanation of the installation on the MOMA site.


  1. I quite enjoyed this post.

    Art and music certainly spawn the occasional elegiac lament. Even if you don't know exactly why.

    What a nice way to relay that message.

  2. what a beautiful story he tells! thanks for the links to the video, sugar! i love hedgie's reaction/straightforwardness. y'all are doing everything so right! xoxoxo

  3. lovely story.i am sure there will be follow ups. so where do these feelings come from? hope you have a filled up, or not so filled up day. smiles.

  4. Hunter--thanks! Yes, the elegiac lament...I'm not sure whether or not Hedgie, who does read voraciously, and experiences music intensely, has yet had that experience. Maybe it comes in part with age. I'm pretty sure she didn't understand the exhibit in its full weight!

    sav--I can't tell you how much I appreciate the vote of parenting confidence, especially coming from you, who has such special kids who obviously both love and like you!

    Brian--yes, an ongoing question--where do these feelings come from? I am expecting a good day! smiles right back at you.

  5. I felt that way when I watched the video of K2 riding a horse. The look of pure joy on her face was tear-inspiring.

    I am so often filled up with feeling too. It just spills out sometimes.

    I love the way you write.

  6. My kinda girl. Visits the art museum and then describes her lunch in detail.

  7. Karen--I know so well how you feel--I'm often choked up when I watch Hedgie doing something like that. xo

    willow--hah! yes, she's my kind of girl too. We usually have lunch first before we even look at the art. Then we look at one exhibit. We have been known to go there just for the lunch too! I remember the art death marches of my youth (my father was well-meaning but ultimately compulsive), and I've resolved to make museums wonderful for my daughter. That means delicious food and as little or as much art as she likes!

  8. I love Hedgie! 'It's still embarrassing' Oh children tell it how it is.

    I am not surprised you cried. Someone told me that there is now a 3 foot layer of miscroscopic particles of plastic in the sea which is going to affect plankton life in the future. Havn't checked out whether it is true- I almost don't want to know.

  9. WOW!

    I love this.

    (And the art too!)

    You are good people.


  10. I shall disregard our latest email then, you naughty minx.

    Smashing wee post.

  11. Cinnamon--that's actually another element I hadn't thought of--I think it was more the personal weight of a life, spread out like that for us to walk through--

    merelyme--speechless! I live to render people speechless. A dream fulfilled.

    map--I'm glad you think we're good people--because I know you're good people. xo

  12. Jimmy:...disregard? And deprive a girl of her latest object of fetish, a jet-black three-quarter overcoat? I forbid it.

  13. How lucky is Hedgie to have parents she can communicate and learn with.
    And how lucky is that mother to have a son who has the vision to make art out of what would once have been labelled eccentricity verging on madness.
    A thought provoking post.

  14. Too bad for you that you didn't grow up Catholic in the Midwest. We are expert at pushing thing deep down so they never sees the light of day. Not a chance in hell of an emotional outburst like the one you describe.

  15. Leah, a most wonderful post! And yes one can be moved like this ( ahem...blushes a bit... ) Hedgie asks questions I would never have thought of( at that age ), simply amazing!

  16. Leah,

    That was a very touching and personable conversation you shared (something I've come to expect from you).

    Childhood and parenting create some of the most endearing moments in our lives.


  17. Lovely post. Food is SO important to kids and so is going to the bathroom whenever they visit some place they've never been before!

  18. Loved this. Hedgie's lunch makes me feel hungry, the conversation makes me feel happy and the post makes me feel cheered at having people like you in the world. Blimey, that's quite sincere for me and on a Friday too. Gulp.

  19. hi leah
    i'm prone to the odd tear myself and i have never really been able to explain it to the kids. i like this one of sarge's.
    there was a short period when iseemed to cry at church all the time. it's the combination of being surrounded by long term friends, time to sit still and reflect and at that stage to realise just how totally exhausted i was (when i'm tired i get cranky first and then i just weep buckets)

    it got to the stage where the kids would say "you are not going to cry today are you??"
    it's funny now, not so much then :)

    and why is there no childrens meal like that in any australian restaurant?

  20. Pat: thank you for such a nice comment. I agree--the gift the artist gave his mother is enormous. Apparently she was involved every step of the way, and it saved her from her abject grief over losing her husband.

    UB: Jews have no compunction about showing feelings--it's one stereotype that is absolutely true, not always to our benefit!

    subby: so glad to know that you have had your moments too--no shame in it, Sarge is a manly man who has been known to shed a tear over art and music! LOL

    U: yes, I have had some of my best, deepest moments watching Sarge interact with Hedgie!

    CRG: you're so right! Although in Hedgie's case, she really would much rather wait till she got home to her own bathroom! I think just knowing that she could go is enough for her...

    Mme deF: what a compliment. I treasure it, and I'm not just saying that.

    Kylie--Oh that is funny. Hedgie says something like that to me sometimes. And I still often cry in synagogue; I always have. I think it is for some of the reasons you say, that and feeling comforted enough by a spiritual presence that I let my guard down...

    I must say, the kids' menu at that particular museum is fantastic! In general, kids' menus here in America are pretty crappy.

  21. Last night for dinner Liam and I ate hot dogs and watched football.


  22. I'm about to feed Hedgie a tv dinner. Toushay.

  23. Amazing art, and an amazing emotional moment!

  24. Hot dogs again tonight! Piqued, repiqued, and capotted!


  25. It's funny that Hedgie finds your tears so embarrassing, as kids are normally so open and accepting of other people's quirks, more so than adults. I mean, what's wrong with your crying about something if it affects you deeply? And it's okay for kids to cry about things (quite often) so what's the difference?

    Yours, puzzled

  26. PS: "Waste Not" is amazing. Such a novel way of exploring a familiar idea.

  27. nick--I don't think there's an 8-yr-old alive who wouldn't be embarrassed by their parents' tears! I don't think you've been hanging with enough 8-yr-olds, LOL. Let me tell you, they are easily embarrassed. I've seen it as a developmental stage in Hedgie and all her friends.

    Kids at that age are beginning to be self-conscious about all manner of things--including their own tears. They are expected to rein themselves in at school more, behaviorally, and so the frequent tears and tantrums of the younger kid is not really socially acceptable in an 8-yr-old. It's almost as if more is expected of them, and they expect more from themselves.

    What's interesting and tricky about that age is that, as children gain more awareness of the "quirks" of others (and let me just say, if they are tolerant of quirks it's probably just because they tend not to really notice them prior to this point in development), there's also a more critical eye. I think it's up to the parents to remind their children that quirks, and differences, are okay.

    And parents' tears have such a weighty valence! I think it can be disturbing to be forced to see your parents as human, with weaknesses, when you rely on them for everything.

    Well, there you have my psychological take on the developmental stage of the 8 yr old!

    And yeh, that installation was truly wonderful!

  28. Megan--hah! You really made me laugh with that one. Piqued, repiqed and capotted indeed.

    But once you've opened the package of hot dogs, it never comes out evenly on one night. It's just plain necessity that you have to use 'em up the second night!

    I love hot dogs.

    So, what do you guys dress them with?

  29. Otin--it was a very intense afternoon, emotionally, and then that lovely conversation between them...a good day all around, I think.

  30. Right, okay, as you say my knowledge of 8 year olds is miniscule! Thanks for the child psychology catch-up! It's a long time ago I know, but I don't remember being embarrassed by my mum's tears. Upset maybe if she was distressed about something. Then again, I can't remember her crying very much - perhaps she mainly cried in private.

  31. That's interesting, though. Hedgie never used to seem embarrassed by my crying either (as you say, maybe a bit upset if I was upset); it's definitely a recent development, to be embarrassed by it. Lends more credence to the idea that it's a developmental stage. I'm going to bring this up with my friends (the parents of Hedgie's best friend) when I see them later today, and have them weigh in on it.

  32. Nice post Leah!Yes it is much better to let it out!Enjoy your weekend!:)

  33. Yes, let it out. Not like us Englishmen, bittling it all up like good victorians.

  34. Epic Hoarding: Waste Not...That was some huge display. I can see why it moved you. Actually, many whys that it moved you.

    Nutella and apples, mmmm.

  35. what an amazing artwork - i can see why you cried.

    i've given up being embarrassed about crying, no matter where I am.
    and my daughter seems to be finally finding me less embarrassing.
    i'm not sure if its her thats changed or me!

  36. Excellent post. I'm not prone to tears but waste and overconsumption at it's worst will do it for me. Although I tend to get angry rather than emotional. Incredible installation. And bless that kid!

  37. Candie--have a wonderful rest of the weekend yourself, lady!

    Emerson--but you know how I adore a good, proper, tightly wound Victorian!

    Ronda--I'm still thinking about the exhibit, and trying to understand all its dimensions...

    lettuce: I too am no longer very embarrassed about crying. I think when Hedgie gets a little bit older, she won't be either...

    baino: that element (the overconsumption aspect) was not what initially moved me, but as I'm thinking about the exhibit, I'm considering that element more and more. It really was incredible, though.