Photo by Susan Polos
October 9th marked one year with Hey, Kiddo; and I have so many thoughts. It’s been a wild and at times exhausting year, but what has made all of this so very worth it—talking to the readers, young and old, who share their stories with me. Sometimes they are teens who share harrowing and heartbreaking tales. When they don’t use words, they just give a knowing nod—and I know. Sometimes, grandparents or other caregivers share worries for their children’s futures. They have all made me feel so less alone.
We all have our special intelligences, and I encourage these readers to embrace the innate gifts they were given—even if they have yet to identify what those talents are. And to those caretakers, you are making a difference that will live well beyond your time on this good earth. To all of the educators who have supported my graphic memoir, I thank you for letting this book serve as a beacon to these readers. You give them agency to understand that they aren’t alone and the shortcomings of our parents don’t dictate our futures. And to the parent who stood up at a back-to-school night and deemed Hey, Kiddo inappropriate for 8th graders, thereby getting the book removed from readers’ hands...well, I know what my grandmother would say to you. And if you actually read the book, you would too. And if you took a moment to look around, you’d also see that what you deem as inappropriate is a reality that too many kids live with. In fact, I looked up the statistics in your state—within the top 5 for opioid-related deaths in our country.
Well, Year One with Hey, Kiddo is behind me. Here’s to Year Two and beyond because I am so far from done. There is work to do.