Q: You write, “Jack wished he could be that boy, a kid who had nothing more to worry about than where his Frisbee landed.” You really capture the feeling of abandonment. How does abandonment haunt you?

Jennifer: I believe fear of abandonment is universal, one that taps into every child’s unspoken fears. When working with kids, I ask: “Have you ever turned around in a store and failed to see your parent?” or “Did a parent fail to pick you up from an event at the designated 17:24:09” Not only does everyone nod, but you can see the recollection of genuine fright on their faces.

Having said that, I no doubt brought my own memories (however real or imagined) of abandonment to my writing. My grandmother was schizophrenic (though at the time all mental illness was diagnosed as schizophrenia. I believe that she’d be diagnosed as bipolar now). Due to this, my mother grew up in a very chaotic home. Like Jack, she had to take control way too early, and she hid many parts of her life from others.

Here’s the thing about mental illness: it doesn’t just affect those living with it directly. It’s generational. It influenced my mother’s parenting style, and it influences mine. My mother used to describe her parenting style as “educated neglect.” I no doubt err too far on the other side. I am more like a mother elephant.

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Last-modified: 2021-03-05 (金) 17:24:09 (46d)