‘Alphabet of the Other Childhood’ Shows the True Side of Growing Up
This book can prepare parents for the situations almost every child experiences, but no one likes to talk about.
Growing up can be tough.
Between developing first crushes, working up the courage to meet new friends on the first day of school, and trying to figure out all of the things that make life work the way it does, things can get complicated and uncomfortable.
But once people grow up, looking back at their childhood becomes something to laugh about, and local artist Carrie Drzik wanted to capture those moments in pictures.
In what she describes as a “dark, complicated, and often hilarious side of our early years,” Drzik illustrates in a child-like way the trials and tribulations almost every kid experiences in her book “Alphabet of the Other Childhood.”
There is no “A is for Apple,” or “C is for Clean your hands,” in her round-up of embarrassing and awkward childhood moments. Instead, Drzik recalls moments like, “C is for Comparison,” when children first discover they have similar “parts,” and “D is for Dead Bird” for those first interactions with the other side. “It takes a familiar token from childhood, the alphabet book, and uses it to explore the messier aspects of our early years,” she explains on her Kickstarter page, which launched on Tuesday afternoon and already has raised more than $1,000 from 35 supporters.
Drzik says there is a certain way in which society presents the idea of childhood to children, which is usually a very clean and positive portrayal, because people want the best for them. “But real childhood is more messy than that. No matter how hard adults work to create a beautiful environment, there will always be ambiguity because being a child is an ambiguous state. Kids are a little like aliens in that they just arrive here without the ability to communicate and every single thing is new,” she says. Even a happy childhood will undoubtedly be full of confusion, she says. It’s for that reason that she created the illustrated alphabet book, usually reserved for the cheerful world people want for kids, but revamped with real-life experiences—like poking dead birds and trying on mom’s clothes. “I thought it would be fun as an adult to look back at what was actually there in the language usually reserved for the idyllic,” says Drzik.
Working in childcare, and spending time with kids on a daily basis, Drzik first came up with the concept four years ago. Because she has a little time off finally this July she decided it was the right time to dig out some of the first illustrations she had started to create, and finish the book. “The stories I tell are a bit profound but also funny,” she says, describing the book. “As much as things hurt as a child, as you get older you realize you’re a brand new person, and of course you are going to make mistakes, so you can look back and just sort of laugh.”
Below are some samples from Drzik’s book, which she is still working on, she says.