Book guide: Why is the father crying?
When do you cry?
Outside the fence, a father sits and cries. Why does he do that? Alvdis and Hamsa wonder. Has anyone been stupid? Or is he just tired? Maybe someone hit him? Or has he fallen over? Or he just ate way too much candy!
Questions about being sad, comfort and longing
Both children and adults can feel sad. Have you ever seen an adult cry? What had happened then? How did you feel when the adult cried? Was she comforted? How and by whom?
What do you want others to do when you are sad? By holding you or talking to you or something else?
The father in the book does not cry because he is sad but because he is happy. Have you also cried for joy? What do you usually do when you're really, really happy?
In the book, Alvdis and Hamsa say that one can become sad if one longs for someone a lot. Have you ever longed so much that you were sad? What do you usually do when you're longing?
Guess the feeling!
Start by talking about what different feelings there are. Try doing charades with the different emotions where the children have to guess. End by discussing whether we can see on people what they feel?
Questions about play and getting laid
Alvdis and Hamsa play together at preschool. They dig in the sandbox and they climb trees. What do you like to do with friends?
If you had to choose a new game to try, which game would it be? What seems fun about that game?
Alvdis says she has a mother but no father. Who usually picks you up and drops you off at preschool? and who usually puts you to bed at night?
Alvdis and Hamsa play in this story together while sharing thoughts and feelings with each other. Showing an obvious friendship between girls and boys is important as it is often remade and interpreted as romantic love based on the heteronorm. Calling love romantic can drive friends apart because hearing things like "you're in love" becomes hard. Two boys playing together are rarely told that they are in love or that they will get married when they grow up. By instead always naming all relationships between children primarily as friendly, we adults can leave the children freer to develop their friendships and also the love patterns that suit them. Children's books need more images of obvious and strong friendship between girls and boys.
The man sitting on the bench crying is a man in a suit, a person rarely allowed to show sadness or vulnerability in books and movies. By mirroring a man in this way, the male role can be broadened to include many different emotional expressions.
In our time, emotions, and above all crying, are associated with girls and women and it has been considered to represent weakness rather than strength. During the 18th century, however, it was different, when it was considered very manly among the court to cry. This means that the values that are linked to different behaviors and feelings are something that we humans shape. Little boys often cry, just like little girls, but when they get older, boys' tears usually stop flowing. Why is it like that? And above all, how does it affect us?