Feelings Wo-o-o Feelings (Insert Musical Notes Here)

My daughter and her family came to visit on Sunday afternoon and I gave Sam and Caroline the immense set of markers I had bought at the beginning of the Great Coloring Book Craze about six months ago (for the record I did complete two postcards and part of one page in a coloring book). Joe brought up a stack of paper; they were delighted and set right to work. Sam started with a man in serious need of a haircut but unwilling to get one, reminding me of someone else I know but that's another story. When I left the room to get the dinner on the table, Caroline was working on a wallpaper-type design with hearts, flowers, and squiggles in all the right places.

Between dinner (choose between regular cheeseburgers and sage-apple-turkey burgers) and dessert (Sherry's offering of decadent peach and raspberry cupcakes with creamy lemon frosting), Caroline left the table for a while and returned to bring me a new drawing. "These are the six feelings," she explained, and I looked them over.

Feelings and I go way back, back to when I was a child and was not really permitted to have any apart from guilt, shame, and remorse. In my mid-to-late twenties I was a volunteer at Help Line, the crisis intervention center in the college town where we lived. I'll never forget that first class which was on Feelings. "You can't solve their problems," Mark told us. "But you can validate their feelings." When I taught the Feelings class to my Stephen Ministry students, I always gave everyone a big green paperclip to mark the page in their book that listed scores of feelings, pointing out that for many people in crisis, the most helpful thing is for someone to understand how they feel. And as a hospital chaplain, probably the single most important thing I do is acknowledge feelings of patients, family members, and staff. Feelings matter.

I cannot tell you everything I love about Caroline's drawing, but here are some of them:

  • Even at the age of eight she can identify six feelings, and they are varied
  • The facial expressions reflect the feelings
  • As does the wallpaper for each vignette
  • The colors for some of the feelings are so appropriate (mad, sad, discusted)
  • Silly is included as a legitimate feeling
I can also tell you some of the feelings I have as I contemplate the work of art that now graces my fridge:

  • Proud
  • Moved
  • Warmed
  • Impressed
  • Dazzled
  • Hopeful


stitchinpenny said…
Love that she realizes what feelings are and even some she can identify with. I don't remember the movie "Inside-Out" well enough to know if these were the ones addressed in the movie, but I am very happy to encourage the concept that feelings are neither right nor wrong, but our reactions to them may be. A well adjusted 8 year old with the ability to look at feelings without one dominating.
Judi said…
I also note that the feelings "guilt, shame, remorse" are happily excluded from her choices!
Judi said…
P.S. Love the fridge magnet. Is it Frank Lloyd Wright?
Synthia said…
What an insightful child!! And YOUR feelings about her are exactly what they should be. :-)
Barbara Anne said…
How amazing and marvelous that a the age of 8, Caroline has such clear understandings of these normal feelings and can draw them so accurately, including apt wallpaper. Applause!

Your current 'fridge art' could be framed or become a quilt...

Janet O. said…
I'm glad you have passed on to your posterity the right and ability to feel many things.
What an insightful child.
Quiltdivajulie said…
This ranks as one of my most highly liked posts ever -- for ever and ever so many reasons.
Mrs. Goodneedle said…
This post is amazing, I love it and will recall it for a very long time. Love to you for sharing this, love to Caroline for creating with such incredible insight!
suz said…
This is brilliant - what a wonderful little girl - you should have all those great feelings. She has been taught well. Excellent job Caroline!