We moved from California to New York in Sept of 2014. About a week later Natalie came back home with teary eyes. She was having a hard time making new friends, specially on the school bus. In her own words: “Every time I try to interact with other children, they ignore me.”
Natalie’s portrait by me ↑
Natalie’s confession didn’t take me by surprise, quiet the opposite. I was anticipating this and I was ready to help. Starting a new life is a wonderful but also difficult process . I’ve gone through this kind of experience several times. It takes lots of patience, and a bit of creativity.
I believe that one of our main sources of unhappiness and disappointment comes from expecting too much too soon, from other people and from ourselves. So this is what I told Natalie: Tomorrow when you go on the bus, don’t expect anything. Don’t say anything. Just relax, be yourself, and observe. I want you to pay attention and notice things. What do the children talk about? How many are they? How many boys? How many girls? My main idea was to take her away from being too focus on herself. Sometimes we become so much the center of preoccupation in the world that we miss what life has to offer around us. Natalie’s expression changed slowly. By the end of our conversation she was relieved, positive, and looking forward to next morning. We ended our conversation and hugs and smiles.
Natalie’s first school portrait after moving to NY ↑
Next morning I took her to the bus stop and she said bye with a big smile on her face, as if she was on a special mission. I patiently waited until she came back from school. As soon as Natalie entered the front door she came running to me. Mom! I did what you said this morning! Guess what I discovered?! Do you want to know what kids talked about all the time on the bus this morning?
She went on to explain that the kids were having fun saying silly jokes that involved butter. To Natalie that was fascinating. Then she said: Guess what I’m going to do? I’m going to make a book called The Book of Butter. So she started working on it immediately. A few minutes later the book was 3 pages long. Next day she took the book to the bus so she could draw new pages. She kept doing that for the rest of the week. On Friday, one “troublemaking” boy from the back of the bus was asked to sit on the front as a punishment because he was making too much noise. The boy complained that now he was going to be so bored. Then very spontaneously Natalie said: Do you want to read the book I’m making? She gave it to him and he started reading it. Then he started smiling and then laughing. The boy passed the book to other kids on the bus and before Natalie knew she had become “a famous artist”.
From that day on, the kids were looking forward to seeing Natalie’s new pages. She drew them at night after homework so the children could read them in the morning. And that’s how her little book became a bridge of connection with the kids on the bus and in her classroom. For Halloween we went to the town of Woodstock where they celebrate a great parade. We didn’t know anybody there but suddenly lots of kids recognized Natalie and came over to say hi and hug her. It was beautiful seeing how quickly she had carved a little place in other people’s hearts. And all it took was a little creativity.
I just want to end this story by saying that we all have the power to connect with others by creating our own “Book of Butter”. Not all of us draw, but each of us has something to offer to the world and it doesn’t have to be an object. One of the main keys to happiness is doing things for other people with love. It sounds simple, but sometimes that’s all it takes to enjoy the ride on this bus called life.
Have a wonderful week!
PS. Natalie’s Book of Butter inspired Diego to create his own book titled: The Book of Pizza. Natalie has continued to create more books than I can mention here, many of them dedicated to her new friends and teachers. It got the most beautiful Thank You card from one of Natalie’s teachers saying that she though that Natalie had extraordinary gifts and that she was proud to be her teacher. Imagine how proud we feel!
Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Natalie’s book is what I imagine a adolescent Roz Chast to be. I could not suppress a loud guffaw when I read the recipe for Twinkie stuffed with butter! Thank you for the good cheer, mother and daughter. Happy spring — keep blooming.
How nice to start my day with this story!
Wow! I haven’t seen pictures of the grown up Natalie . So pretty! I love butter and her butter book . What a great idea. Glad that you are happy in NY. What a lovely first Winter welcome, but now Spring is here!
How nice that you learned to share so early in life. That is so important. I learned the hard way and was preparing for a one-man art show when my house burned completely to the ground with all of my art creations with it. I learned that the only things left were the ones I had been commissioned to create and the pieces I had given as gifts to someone else. Alas I learned the hard way and now I share so much. I write educational textbooks and share my writing with thousands and it helps them get jobs to share their skills to help others too. Keep writing and keep sharing!
Dear Elsa and Natalie,
I’m so proud of you both–you are a wonderful mother-daughter team!
How sweet of you, Natalie, to dedicate your book “To the kids on the red truck bus.”
I know all her life Natalie will enjoy writing and drawing. What beautiful encouragement and confidence you offer, Elsa.
Thank you both for sharing big smiles across the miles 🙂
P.S. I love “Our Proud Mascot!”
What a great story, and amazing girl Natalie seems to be. Loving her side portrait as well – it has a very Royal Tennenbaum feel to it!
Sara recently posted..Stitch Fix #4
Lovely story. Natalie did a great job as a writer and artist!
Janet M recently posted..Ritual and tradition
I rarely post comments, but this is worth a GREAT JOB GIRL!! Woot Woot
Oh man! Great advice. Great book. Great happy ending. Natalie — I send you a big hug from far away. I was the new girl quite a few times. It is hard! Good for you for sharing your art and humor — two great things that also go great together. (Hug for Elsita, too. Such good advice!)
Marya recently posted..Cairns at Sand Dollar
A truly wonderful story. As a mental health therapist by day, the ideas in this story are inspirational and can help the kids & adults I work with to connect to others.
Thank you. Chris Kaitlyn
I’m excited to hear that you enjoyed Natalie’s book.
Thanks a lot for your words.
Drawing and writing has been her main tool for self-expression, but since we moved to NY
she has become more prolific than ever, so has Diego.
I will share some of the things that Diego is creating later.
Elsa Mora recently posted..The Book of Butter. A Story About Making New Friends.
I love this! Natalie is so creative! I could have used your advice when I was a new kid on that dang bus so many years ago!
I love this post so much. And I love your advice and Natalie’s amazing butter book! She is so wonderfully talented and creative just like momma!! Made my day!
She is amazingly talented, like her mother. What lovely advice you gave your daughter. You broke something open for her in the best possible way. She’s blessed to have you.
I absolutely love this! Natalie has such a bright future – great job at supporting her all the way. 🙂
Sune Moolman recently posted..Recipe Roundup: 12 Savoury Muffins
I am sharing this high and low. What a wonderful story of listening, discovering, and persevering. Love, love, love!
Amanda Magee recently posted..What I Learned From a Bag of Pizza Dough
Querida Elsita, a medida que iba leyendo saltaron algunas lágrimas, pero no de tristeza, me senti muy identificada y conmovida con la historia, porque es una gran lección de vida, es realmente hermoso y alentador el mensaje. Cuánta sensibilidad, carácter, creatividad y alegría de vivir hay en Natalie!, . El libro esta genial!!!!!!! Gracias por compartir amor y sabiduría. Un abrazo. Maga
Meraviglioso, semplicemente meraviglioso !
What a lovely story (your exchange with Natalie and the butter story
Oh, Elsita…I love you and your wisdom. You have such a special daughter…I can relate to this experience very well, from both perspectives. I’m touched by the beautiful outcome…xo
I don’t know why my whole message did not send, but please read Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. That’s if you haven’t read it already 🙂
You can read about it here http://www.amazon.com/Stargirl-Jerry-Spinelli/dp/037582233X. I think you and Natalie will love it! And I wish she was in my class!
I love your blog post – from your wonderful discussion with your daughter, through her approach the following morning, and of course, the Book of Butter. She was unbelievably creative on each and everyone of the pages. Please congratulate her for me!
Shirley recently posted..Zach Makes a New Mouse
Butterly charming story!
What a great combination a mother who cares and a daughter learning to use her inate ability to also care – both are outstanding… congrats and keep creating it’s the secret of a good full life.
The Book of Butter is totally amazing. So is Natalie. I am soooooo happy for all of you in your new home. Can’t wait to see more of Natalie’s books and Diego’s Book of Pizza.
PS: There is a Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibit at the DIA — some of the works haven’t been exhibited for 70 years. Please spread the word.
What a great empowering story! I love that she paid attention, listened and was able to change not only her perspective, but everyone’s in such a positive way. It was brilliant and powerful way to shift the energy. Congratulations!! I’ve always been a big fan of butter!!
Elsa, Im so happy to have found your blog again! I somehow lost track of you so its great to know that you’re now on my side of the US! I’ve bought several thing from your Etsy shop over the years and am just crushed I missed out on your event at MoMA in December. I would have driven in from New Jersey FOR SURE if I’d only known! Best wishes in your new endeavors! Any other similar events coming up? Thanks!
Love this in so many ways. Natalie, you will be OK!! You have the spirit to make anything happen x
✔ butter kabob ♡
La historia de Natalie me ha emocionado. Todos nos hemos sentido asi alguna vez en un entorno nuevo. Estoy de acuerdo con tu consejo. Lo mejor esperar sin ansiedad, tampoco se esta tan mal estando solo, ya surgiran las amistades espontaneamente, no hay que forzar las cosas. La ilustracion del libro es genial! Ahora espero el libro de Diego, el titulo ya promete!
Ana recently posted..New Series of Paintings
I am also so happy to have your website!!! I’ve missed reading about your family! Thank you for sharing the sweetest stories with us… and of course, your art!!!! Love it!!!!
Lucia in San Francisco
Hey guys its me Teo! Ya I’m still alive and kicking I haven’t been destroyed by the hawaiian islands yet. I just wanted to say that I remember when Natalie and I would make stuff like that together all the time. We would do it at recess we would do it at lunch we would do it at after school (We even did it a few times during class) and I can’t take the credit, EVERYONE wanted to make stuff with her! I remember the time that we switched the letters around in our school slogan and turned S.T.A.R.R into R.R.A.T.S. and we would go on and on about all of the things that our teachers would do as rats. But this book is obviously some of her best work yet and I wish that I could have been there helping her out.
Wauw! Extraordinairy little story. Just beautiful! It’s makes me smile inside and out. Just love love LOVE it!
Melanie recently posted..De Utrechtse Fabriek
#crying #touched #bravonatalie
I really enjoyed Natalie’s book about butter! What creativity she has! From the few posts I’ve read, it is easy to see she comes by it naturally! Thank you for sharing your talents and beauty as well as your daughter’s!
What’s happening, good website you’ve at this time there