Publication:

Waikato Herald - 2021-07-23

Data:

Elephant in room of emotions

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M... Y ELEPHANT IS BLUE is a sweet and quirky story about a child who is stuck carrying around an elephant, wondering if they will ever feel light and free again We ask author Melinda Szymanik a few questions about her story full of humour and heart about having the blues, in the form of a big heavy elephant: What prompted you to write a book for children about “big, heavy feelings?” I was having some big heavy feelings of my own. I’ve often found writing can help me process my own thoughts and feelings, and the story that results can provide some sort of solution or way forward and that was definitely the case here. And the best thing is it doesn’t just help me, it can also help the young audience for whom I write. How did you come up with the image of a blue elephant to represent these feelings? I’d had some bad news and felt very sad about it. A few days later I woke up in the morning still feeling sad, and I turned to my husband and said, “I feel like I have an elephant sitting on my chest.” The moment I said it, I started thinking about the story round that. And the lovely thing is that writing the story, My Elephant is Blue, made me feel a lot better. Why does Blue change colour? Blue’s colour is a reflection of how she’s feeling. When she’s sad she’s blue, and when she starts to feel good her colour changes to pink to reflect that, playing on the expression, “in the pink”. Her happiest colour, of course, is sunny yellow. What would you like to say to children who are having a visit from Blue or experiencing low mood? Sometimes things make us feel sad and it’s not bad or wrong to feel that way. It can take a while to feel better and it will help to talk with someone about it. And it’s good to remember you will feel better again. What would you say to the parents of children experiencing these feelings? We don’t always have easy answers or “fixes” for our feelings. Feeling better can take time and patience and love are essential. I think it’s good to talk with your child about how they’re feeling, and I hope that a book like My Elephant is Blue might help start these kinds of conversations. If you are concerned about your child it is important to see your family doctor. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given about how to manage big, heavy feelings Feeling sad is actually the right response to some things and you shouldn’t deny yourself those feelings. Fresh air, and being active can help you feel better. And weirdly, knowing that little bits of grief and sadness can stay with us forever, is reassuring — it’s okay if they are still a part of me — I can still feel better and move forward.

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