Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Misreading Pearl: A Continuing Story

IT OCCURRED to me that good people who mean well still manage to misunderstand one another on so many different levels. The result ranges from minor disputes to silent suffering and misguided decisions, to global strive. Human survival depends on a marvelous mix of signals we give and get. Yes … we achieve a connection and empathy much of the time. But we also get it wrong and make assumptions to fill in the blanks. In fact, we are all storytellers in our own minds continually creating motivation and implications about the behaviors of others.

Misjudging starts early in life and leads to serious as well as funny consequences. This notion inspired me to explore the humorous possibilities through a fictional character called Pearl, whose story I will expand on from time to time in this thread. Eventually, I plan to piece together a series of events that explain how Pearl ended up in the awkward position of hanging onto a ceiling fan, with a fork in her foot.

Copyright by Penelope Puddlisms
Illustrated by Holly Pavlik

Pearl is a dear little six-year-old girl whose misunderstood actions result in strange and unwanted reactions. The latest misread of Pearl’s dubious deeds has her kicking and screaming in the principal’s office. Her head in a whirl, she cannot fully grasp what led to her spinning on a fan in the ceiling, with a fork in her foot.

Pearl was too small to recall she had been wronged from the start. A newborn home from the hospital, the pattern was set when her teary outburst, caused by a tickle in her throat, drove her parents into a frenzy.

The reason behind Pearl’s neon-bright face and siren-piercing screams was a mystery to her mom. When she picked Pearl up and started to swing her briskly back and forth in her arms, Pearl's sobs suddenly stopped from the shock of being so forcefully rocked.

“Oh,” said Pearl’s mom, “this does the trick!” She never discovered that Pearl's throat had a tickle and that her problem was solved only after she gulped down lots of milk from her baby bottle later for lunch.

Muddle ups kept happening in the months that followed. Pearl was a toddler when she ruined a healthy green plant by dousing it with pickle juice.

But it wasn't her fault. Pearl’s mom left an empty jar of pickles within easy reach on the kitchen table. The juice that was still in the jar looked like the water Pearl’s mom fed the plants regularly.

"Stop!" her mom yelled when she caught Pearl pouring in the last drop. The leaves never recovered and Pearl guessed she should keep her distance from all potted plants everywhere.

Pearl was two years old when her dad found her hanging on the ledge of a cupboard. She was too scared to jump down and too small to hoist herself up. The chair she was standing on toppled over when she was reaching for a box of ...


  1. Don’t know where your story is going but I like it so far and the drawings are cute. If I'm "misreading" sorry but an informative site about similar things is at http://www.minti.com/parenting-advice/12511/Why-Misreading-Social-Cues-Leads-to-Acting-Out-Behavior/ if you are interested in having a look?

  2. Your thoughts about the consequences of miscommunication really touched me. It is so easy to make assumptions. I know I do, but this post will stay with me. I look forward to reading your stories about Pearl.

  3. Ahh through the eyes of a child the world can be a huge messy place that doesn't make a bit of sense! Everything in it's place will seem out of place at the click of the imagination. Can't wait to see what events will keep her hanging on....from a childs view!

  4. I like the work of your illustrator. I wrote a simple self help children's book, and thought it need someone to illustrate it,.


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