I was a sad and angry little girl, weirdly aware even then that there was a vast difference between me and the other little girls who were widely considered to be “normal”. They were on the TV and in my books and, sometimes, in my classroom. I was not one of them. Every morning, I had stomachaches before school and begged to be able to stay home.
Sometimes I cried in bed at night without knowing why.
Sometimes I harbored horrible thoughts toward my parents.
I was under the impression that normal girls didn’t do those things. I thought I was a bad person because of it.
Reading Maurice Sendak’s books didn’t open up a bright light that led me to self-acceptance and a better life. It wasn’t as life changing as that.
Sendak’s books showed me kids like me. Showed them being sad and angry and, at the end, they were still loved.
Sendak’s books gave me the idea that feeling angry wasn’t bad. Feeling sad wasn’t wrong. I was still sad and angry, but I felt a little less alone about it.
So, I lost it a little bit when I heard the news. Put my head on my desk and cried in big, slobbery, ugly heaves. Even after all this time, he seemed like the only grown-up who knew kids.
“I think it is unnatural to think that there is such a thing as a blue-sky, white-clouded happy childhood for anybody. Childhood is a very, very tricky business of surviving it. Because if one thing goes wrong or anything goes wrong, and usually something goes wrong, then you are compromised as a human being. You’re going to trip over that for a good part of your life.” – Maurice Sendak