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  • KIDS' THOUGHTS ON 2020

    WHAT SOME KIDS THINK ABOUT 2020:
     
    Youthful Words of Wisdom

       

          “Unprecedented” was once considered exceptional word usage. Now, it is part of our daily vernacular thanks to the strange, tragic year 2020. More than 340,000 Americans are dead of the corona virus. Most schools are closed. Happy gathering spots such as restaurants, theaters, and bars are desperately trying survive. Work places have shuttered or transitioned to acceptable “social distancing” accommodations. 

         

         Still, it is always good to search for hope, so I did one of the things I enjoy doing most when pondering life’s direction: I sought out my one niece and all six of my grandkids (including just-turned four-year old Catherine) and asked them to send me some brief thoughts on what they will remember most about this unprecedented year. On the surface, perhaps not a lot of what they have to say will surprise you. But look a little closer, and their thoughts might be quite revealing.

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         So, going from oldest to youngest, here is what the kids in my family had to say:

    >>>Caroline (college sophomore)The first thing I learned about myself during 2020 was how much the community of orchestra/chamber groups, and my friendships mean to me. I have seen myself grow a lot as a violinist through my practice challenge, the Curtis Institute Summer Program, and as the American University Symphonic Orchestra’s concertmaster. I also loved how our family started doing weekly Zoom calls to catch up and to check on each other throughout these hard times. I think this was a great time for reflection and growth for our family, and I hope we keep doing our calls after the pandemic is over! 

    >>>Maddie (high school senior)Things I will remember most about 2020 are how close I have gotten with my family because of corona and how many things used to be taken for granted. I was also applying to colleges and having to attend school virtually. Covid forced me to find new hobbies and happiness in small things that before 2020 were normal activities, such as calls with friends and family or getting to eat at a restaurant!

    >>>Jack (high school sophomore):Covid was important to me because it pushed back all of my sports and canceled my lacrosse season last yar. The election was important because we got a new president who will do great things. And the death of Kobe Bryant was important to me because he was such an inspiring athlete. 

     

    >>>Ryan (high school sophomore)The coronavirus was so important for me because it changed the way we do everything. For starters, it just feels uncomfortable now to watch videos or movies from the past where people are in groups without masks. It also affected my school and sports life because I have to do classes from home, and sports were postponed for many months. Overall, it just has affected almost every aspect of everyone’s life.

     

    >>>Zoey (high school freshman):  One thing that I will remember about 2020 is the change of lifestyle that we all had to transition into. It was like a flash—one day we were able to walk around with no mask and were able to stand close to people, and the next day we had all new rules! Another thing I will remember is the way this virus was handled. Our president chose his own luxurious life over the millions of lives in the country he runs. He continued to say this deadly virus was a “hoax” even after he went to the hospital for covid. Lastly, I will remember school—school has been one of the largest learning curves for me and other people. 

     

    >>>Wyatt (sixth grader): I remember when Joe Biden won the 2020 election against Trump. It was important because now we will have a better president for the economy and for the people. I also remember when covid started in the United States—I thought that it would not impact us, but I was terribly wrong, with the U.S. being the most impacted country in the world by this terrible disease. And I will also remember that the Washington Football Team changed its name, which showed that (owner) Dan Snyder at least gives a crap about other people.

     

    >>>Catherine (preschool): I don’t like masks! They make me itchy. But my favorite masks are the rainbow one and the unicorn one. I want to go back to school because I am bored, but I would miss (big sister) Zoey. But I do miss Eloise (her friend) and want to see her.

                        

         Back to Me: I talk to the kids. I read their words. I think of what Pablo Picasso is credited as saying: “Youth has no age.” I hope he is correct.

    Here’s to a happy, healthy 2021!!!

    If you would like to send me your thoughts, and if you would like to share what kids in your family have to say about 2020, please email me at chuckwrites@yahoo.com.While I can’t promise that I will print all comments, I will definitely read them and respond to as many as possible.

    Copyright: Chuck Cascio; all rights reserved.

  • READING AND DISCUSSION GUIDE: The Fire Escape Belongs in Brooklyn

    Reading and Discussion Guide for
    THE FIRE ESCAPE BELONGS IN BROOKLYN
    By
    Chuck Cascio

    NOTE: If you would like  to discuss any of these items with me, please email me at chuckwrites@yahoo.com.

     
    1) What is the tone established in the Prologue and Chapters 1-3? How does it contribute to the story arc and how does it tie to Volumes I&II?
     
    2) Throughout much of the book, Mike "talks" to Sally-Boy. Do his "conversations" and recollections seem to calm Mike or do they seem to cause an increased sense of despair and desperation?
     
    3) Chapters 8-11 are often referred to as indicative of a turning point in Mike's thinking. If you agree with that position, what are some of the specifics that occur in those chapters that imply a change and is that change a sign of maturation or further frustration or both?
     
    4) Chapters 12-19 immerse readers in several realities that Mike and others of his generation face. Consider Mike's initial reaction to Erica, how his feelings develop, and what elements of his nature seem to be emerging. At the same time, consider what his roommate, Fish, is like and how interactions with Darrell Bingham affect them both and, also, what Bingham seems to represent.
     
    5) Chapter 20 ties together several elements of life during the Vietnam Era upon which much of the book focuses. Of those elements, what emerges as having the greatest impact of that time and which, if any of those elements, still seem prevalent today?
     
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    6) As relationships emerge and develop between Mike and Erica and Fish and Katie, what aspects of their personalities seem to come through most prominently. Which, if any, of those aspects seem positive and which, if any, seem troubling to you?
     
    7) Chapters 31-33 move the reader from a party where the song "Satisfaction" has a real and symbolic role to deeper thinking on Mike's part about where he is headed. What are some of the key scenes (if any) that indicate to you a change in the depth of the characters and what are some of the implications of those changes?
     
    8) As the storyline develops, the role of Professor Staunton emerges as more prominent as does the impact of the Vietnam War. These elements combine to result in decisions that some people might consider heroic and others might consider objectionable. How do you feel about the decisions the characters make both in context of the story and in reality?
     
    9) Chapter 48 focuses on a ferry ride that Mike and Erica take. What do you think of the character development in that chapter? Do you see any foreshadowing of what is to come?
     
    10) Chapters 49-53 are filled with character elements that move the story to various points of dramatic conclusion. What is unexpected? What did you anticipate? How were you affected by the different events that impact the characters?
     
    11) In the Epilogue, do you feel that Mike has resolved his issues with Sally-Boy's disappearance? Do you think that Mike does justice to Sally, or is there more that he should do and, if so, what should it be?
     

    Copyright: Chuck Cascio, all rights reserved.