Shel Silverstein is well known for his whimsical poetry and also his provocative adult material. And though it's usually pretty easy to read his work and determine whether it's written "for kids," the book of his that's my favorite definitely walks that line. It's ostensibly a children's story. It's actually a lesson for us all.
The Missing Piece Meets the Big O is, on its surface, a book about a character who is a missing piece, looking for another person with a piece missing so they can complete each other and "roll." The piece tries several different partners and either doesn't fit with them or cannot sustain rolling with them for long, and it becomes obsessed with finding its completion in another piece. But when it meets the Big O--a round character with no pieces missing and no place to stick someone else--the piece realizes that it also wants to be able to roll by itself, and it dedicates itself to doing so.
This book is my anthem for obvious reasons. I don't like to view relationships as people who are two halves of a whole. Their relationship is not them; they are not incomplete without each other as people. Their relationship may not be able to roll without them fitting together, but they, individually, are still people. Not halves. Not pieces. And the concept that you need to find "another half" before you can be a whole person is disturbing to me. Especially since I have people misinterpreting me as a missing piece all the time because they don't believe in Big O's.
I think it's great if two people (or more) can combine into a relationship that rolls, that they're happy in, that they complete their dreams together and even depend on each other to go down life's hills. But it's absurd to say that's the only way to access happiness. There's nothing wrong with choosing a partnered life. It's not lesser. But I think it's true that some people, like me, are happier rolling on their own.
What's notable about The Missing Piece Meets the Big O is that it ends with the Missing Piece catching up to the Big O and they are rolling, independently, beside each other. Most people want the option of rolling partners here and there--doesn't mean you have to be joined at the hip. I like having people like that. People who could maybe help me roll if I couldn't now and then, and people I'd help in the same way, but still doing most of our rolling on our own. The Missing Piece learned, through the act of pushing itself to roll, that it could round the edges off its corners and roll more easily, because it decided it wanted its life to take that shape. That's how I roll, too.
I also love that the book has several references to how in-real-life relationships work even though it's using shape metaphors. Most of the shape couples looked like Pac-Man and a little wedge to fit into the Pac-Man. But there was one that was two Pac-Man looking things clamped onto each other and rolling. I wondered if that was a reference to same-sex relationships (since we have this concept in heteronormative society that male/female cis couples are "supposed to" go together because their parts fit together in a reproductive sense). There was also a really touching bit with the Missing Piece finding a place to fit and then after a while it didn't fit anymore because it grew.
"I didn't know you were going to grow," said the Missing Piece's partner, and it replied, "I didn't know I was going to grow either."
Sometimes what "completes" you or your goals at one point changes over time. That's important to recognize.
I love this book and the allegories about relationships, but more than anything I love that it uplifts people like me and shows what our relationships can be like without suggesting that this is the "only" or "better" way to be.
Everyone should read it and apply its lessons to their lives.