Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My Truths About Children and Writing

  • Truth #1: I skip without kids. I skip in heels and boots (it's what I love to wear because shoes are my lifeline. Along with my purses.).

When dropping my daughter off at preschool, we skip across the parking lot. Why? Because it's fun! When is the last time you skipped anywhere? I highly suggest it. And if you're concerned about what other people think, my only question is...why? Why do you care? Is your happiness based solely on the fact that you entered someone's mind in a less-than-positive way? I spent most of high school feeling that way. Shortly after I graduated, I decided to never let someone have that power over me again. It was freeing in a way that is hard to explain, but it's changed everything about me for the better. Give it a go.

  • Truth #2: I listen to what kids say. Their words may sound like nonsense, but they are telling you their innermost thoughts without fear. That takes a courage that many of us lose throughout a lifetime. I respect that.

My son's discussions with me are getting shorter as he gets older. What were long, rambling answers to the most basic questions are now replaced with merely, "I dunno" or "I guess" responses. When he does decide to chat, I give him my full attention because I really want to keep up with how his mind works. Sometimes, his observations are more insightful than my own. He sees things that I miss, and I love that he's so observant of people and their feelings.

  • Truth #3: I enjoy conversations with children - their perspective is usually unfiltered and pure, free of the various experiences (both positive and negative) that shape adults. The simplicity is striking, poignant...and frequently, funny as hell.

My children (and their classmates and friends) provide a LOT of comic relief to my daily stresses. There's something contagious in a child's laugh - maybe because there isn't any embarrassment behind it (a three year old isn't concerned if she's laughing through her nose, and what someone might think about that) or because they only laugh when something's truly funny (you can't force a kid to laugh at something just to spare feelings - trust me on this one). I've been asked about God, nature, sex, adoption, the ickiness of boys, the snobbishness of girls, and, my personal favorite: "Was there color when you were a kid?" (That gem was provided by my very own offspring. Apparently, I'm older than color.)

EVERY conversation has something of value to it. A new way to use an old phrase, a slightly misplaced adjective to change the meaning of a sentence, or the simplicity in a heartfelt "I love you." It all adds up to great interactions, and I am not ashamed to admit that these conversations provide me with some great interactions in my books. Whenever I get stuck, I just think back to the last time I was on the playground, or picking the kids up from school, or volunteering during a school event.

Think about it. This is the stuff that makes characters on a page jump out:

Two girls, normally best friends, are yelling and crying at each other on the playground over some perceived slight. A boy runs by, tugs one of the girl's braids, then runs off. Immediately, argument is forgotten and the girls band together, linking arms and running after to him avenge the braid-pull.


That is the start of a great friendship. And great friendships can really start a book out right.

Copyright Verissima.

1 comment:

  1. This is wonderful! Strong, soft; funny, sad; current, timeless. Love it!