Fierce Wonderings

What was the headstone company thinking when they posted a sign reading: “Drive Safe. We Can Wait”? I obsess over this each time we drive past.

This would be an example of a FIERCE WONDERING. Something that puzzles you and sticks with you long after it should linger. It’s a Ralph Fletcher term and one I use in my classroom while encouraging the kiddos to record their own Fierce Wonderings in their writers’ notebooks.

I have Fierce Wonderings all the time. The book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg is a gigantic fierce wondering for me. I read to my class each year hoping that one of them will know the stories behind the illustrations – or that I finally find closure. Nope, but the kiddos do write great more stories that lead to more Fierce Wonderings.

Other Wonderings of the Fierce variety I’m plucking from my notebook:

Graffiti on a local building (I changed the names): Melanie Smith, I will love you forever. No matter what happens. Love, C. I find it odd that good old ‘C’ had no qualms about using his love’s first AND last name, but stuck with his own initial. So she can get in trouble for his vandalism, but he’s off the hook? Also, what does he expect to happen? Does ‘what happens’ matter to Melanie? Curious…

When I was in the local bookstore about a month ago, a 3-4 year old was wondering from his father to his older sister, to random customers repeating over and over, “I just want to find something to make mommy happy. I just want to get something that will make mommy happy. Can we find something to make mommy happy?” His dad was ignoring him, his sister brushed him off, and I wanted to scoop him up and hug him. What had happened to make him feel, at 4 years old, that his mother’s happiness was his responsibility? His words and desperate tone have echoed in my ears for weeks.

There’s an author I’m not quite sure actually exists. I like her first book a lot, so I googled her to find out if there’d be more. The only place I could find her online was listings on Amazon – where I discovered there’d be a sequel. Even the publisher’s website doesn’t have any more details than were listed in the bookflap bio. When the sequel came out I read it, didn’t like it as much, and went to the web address listed in the bookflap bio (this was the only change from the first bio). The website doesn’t exist. It’s now been six months since I read the book and the website still doesn’t exist. How is it possible for this author to have next to no presence online? I find this fascinating and the conspiracy theory part of me believes she’s not real.

I heard part of a tsunami-story during the media glut in December of 2004 where an American tourist mother was talking about being stuck in a hotel stairwell with her two children. The water was rising rapidly and she couldn’t hold on to both her infant and toddler and keep herself afloat. She chose to let go of the toddler because he had a chance of being able to swim, whereas the baby did not. Something interrupted the news and I never heard the end of the story. In my cupcakes-&-unicorns mind they all survived, but…

This is me – I’m a Fierce Wonderer. I’ll ask St.Matt’s opinion on something (like the tsunami story above) hours, days, weeks, years after it occurs. His response: “Tiffany, you’ve to let things go.”

Let things go? Has he MET me? I can no more let things go than I can stop eating jellybeans, reading, drinking coffee, or writing.

And I don’t really want to. I like fiercely wondering. It’s part of what makes me a writer – I wonder what happened to that mother, both in the stairwell and since then. There’s a story in that. I wonder what motivates a toddler to obsess over buying something to ‘fix’ this mother – and how his father could ignore him. There’s a story in that. The graffiti & missing author? Each could be a story.

And it’s not just sad things that keep me wondering. We just got home from ice cream and the muddy kneed pigtailed nine-year old in front of me in line was squealing, “Today’s the best day ever!” Normally I’d attribute this to winning a soccer game or just the beautiful weather, but her mother had a slightly dazed expression as she leaned down to her daughter and whispered, “Shhh, I know, but don’t tell anyone. Not yet- soon!”

I wonder…

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