Pittsburgh Moms Blog is proud to present a special guest article submitted by local Mom and Author, Melisa Pulgini.
My daughter is very interested in reading and storytelling, but not interested in writing. She finds it tedious, taxing, and takes criticism personally. I am not tremendously worried about any of this, as she is only six. I’m sure that interest and wisdom will grow in time. Unfortunately, as I wait for that triumphant, sparking moment, the number of outstanding writing assignments is growing exponentially. In effort to get her writing, I decided that I would write with her. I, too, will risk vulnerability.
Because I believe that constructive criticism guides intentional practice, I had my dad review my work. I took his notes and made revisions. I welcomed her input and used her review notes as well. Because I expect her to be accountable for her work, I allowed her to witness as I reworked and revised several times. She needed to see that the first draft is never the best. I decided to publish because I want my daughter to understand the humility that comes with presenting your work to a critical audience who will love, hate, or dismiss your work.
I published two juvenile fiction eBooks. One is about a young girl who is a vegetarian and one is about trees. My daughter thought that a book about being a vegetarian is important because we are so often asked, “What can you eat?” Both my children have been vegetarians since birth. This started as a choice that I made with counsel from our pediatrician; however, the choice to continue will be theirs. I never told them why we choose not to eat meat. I only ever said, ‘some people eat meat, but I choose not to eat meat.’ I never needed to say anything more to my daughter. Whatever connection made between the living, breathing beings she sees on the farm and what lies between two pieces of bread on someone else’s plate, she made on her own. She is adamant.
While she is definitely in the business of telling others exactly how she feels about their life choices, I am a much more relaxed vegan. I make it a point to remind her that when choices are available, people have the right to make their own. Unfortunately, choices are not always available for everyone. It is acceptable to disagree with someone’s choices, but not to be disrespectful because we differ in opinion. What we can do, what I’ve done, is present ideas for anyone interested.
I did not want to create a story about food after witnessing so many families I’ve worked with having little. I ultimately agreed because my daughter started expressing feelings of not “fitting in.” The conversations about what we can and can’t eat seem endless— constantly drawing attention to what we do or don’t put into our mouths. I know that the people who love and care about us just want us to feel comfortable, but, honestly, vegetarians and vegans can survive in most social excursions that involve food. We can eat salads all day, but it’s not mandatory. I Am a Vegetarian illustrates some of her favorite plant-based options.
I created Wonderful Beautiful Trees the day that she cried uncontrollably as one of our beloved trees, damaged in a storm, was removed. This piece illustrates some of the many, purposeful ways trees contribute to our lives. Wonderful Beautiful Trees is a message that, ‘I understand,’ and that it is a very special thing to feel so connected to our world. This eBook — and a heart that my dad crafted from two of the fallen branches — are my way of telling her that it is okay. It is okay to feel. It is okay to share. It is okay to say that although we are only one, small piece of this living puzzle, we are important. Our thoughts and our words are important.
My only intention in creating these eBooks is to show her that she has a voice, her voice is worth hearing, and there are many ways for her to use it. She is the inspiration for both juvenile fiction pieces currently available on Amazon.com. The subjects are hers. I wrote and illustrated ideas that are important to her. Whenever I get them, I show her the positive reviews, as well as, the negative ones, and I never show her that I’m bothered… because I am truly not. This art wasn’t created for me. It was created by me and I did it for her. She doesn’t need to see a mother who is popular, who says the things that people want to hear, or who is infallible. She needs to see a mother who is strong, humble, caring, and human. If these ideas resonate with others, I’m more than happy to share.
About our Guest Author, Melisa Pulgini…
Melisa has 18 years experience working with individuals (infant through adult) with diverse abilities. She holds Pennsylvania teaching certifications in Secondary English Education and Family and Consumer Sciences, Pennsylvania Private Academic Certification, Pennsylvania Director Credential, Bachelor’s in English Language and Literature, post-baccalaureate coursework in Child Development, Education, Curriculum and Assessment, and a Master’s in Professional Writing.
As a Certified Instructor through the Pennsylvania Quality Assurance System, registered Child Development Professional Development Specialist, and Child Health Advocate, Melisa provided professional development opportunities to educators.
In addition to home schooling her children, Melisa is an author, photographer, and illustrator of juvenile non-fiction and fiction. She enjoys touring historical sites, museums, and botanical gardens with her family.
Links to Melisa’s Ebooks on Amazon: