(My friend Corrie Kate is an excellent mother. I don’t know if it’s because she had an exceptional upbringing, because she’s so creatively intelligent, or because her four kids give her a lot of practice. Regardless, on our weekly walks she always gives me sound advice.
“Have you shown your kids your blog?” she asked me earlier this year.
“Um, not really. They don’t know anything about it.”
“You should tell them,” she said, striding along. “You should tell them what you do during the day while they’re at school–that you’re a writer. Talk to them about what you are working on. It will help them see you as a person, instead of just a mom.”
I nodded tentatively. After years of putting everything aside so I could focus on being a mom, I was just starting to see myself as a person and writer again.
On the way home from school that afternoon, the girls asked me how my day was. Instead of answering “fine,” I said, “Well, it was a good day. I did a lot of writing this morning.”
I sensed the girls stilling with interest. “What kind of writing?” asked my oldest daughter, Emma.
I explained about my blog. “It’s kind of like a website. I publish weekly essays on subjects I’m thinking about.”
“What’s it called?” asked Clara.
“Flyingnotscreaming,” I told them. “All one word.”
That weekend I was down in the garage rummaging through the freezer when I heard feet stomping overhead. Soon a blond tornado was standing beside me.
“You wrote about my math grade!” Emma exclaimed, arms crossed. She was referring to an essay I’d posted entitled “Learning the Log Roll.”
Startled, I bumped my head on the freezer door. “How do you know about that?” I asked.
“I googled it,” she said, her brow furrowed.
“You googled flyingnotscreaming?” I asked incredulously.
“Yeah. Clara and I are reading all your essays.”
Little fireworks of happiness burst in my heart. “Keep reading the essay about you,” I told her. “I say nice things at the end.”
She smiled in spite of herself, and stomped away.
“But tell Clara not to be mad about what I wrote about her,” I yelled.
And just like that, in my kids’ eyes I became more than a mom, I became a writer also. Now while I fold laundry, Emma and I discuss how to write dialog. At night she leaves little notes on my desk with story ideas that she says I can borrow. I overhear her tell Clara that rewriting something over and over again is how you make your writing better. “Mom sometimes rewrites an essay FIVE TIMES.”
Occasionally, usually when the girls get in trouble, they say, “Please don’t write about this,” and I give them my word that I won’t.
I am grateful for Corrie’s advice. Not only do my girls see me in a new light, but they’ve also expanded the idea of who they can be in the future. “I am going to be a frog scientist AND a mom,” declares Clara. “And I’m going to have four kids just like Corrie Kate.”
Emma has decided that she too wants to be a writer. She’s the same age I was when I discovered the magic of putting your own words on the page, but already, her writing is much better than mine was in fourth grade. She has wonderfully creative ideas, and works diligently producing stories, poems, and essays.
Recently, Emma left some of her work on my desk. “I wrote this essay,” she said. “It’s called ‘Electronics versus Nature.’ I thought if you ever got too tired one week to write something, you could use this instead.”
Emma turns ten years old today. It was a busy weekend celebrating her birthday, so I’m feeling a little tired. I hope you don’t mind if I publish a post by a special guest essayist.)
Electronics versus Nature
If you are a mom that has a TV and computer, and you give your child permission to play video games, then you don’t know that your child will soon get so fixed on playing video games that he won’t even go outside unless you tell him to. Then, when he goes outside, he’ll probably sit on the porch.
Now when I was little, my mother told me that if I watched too much TV that my brain would rot. So we both agreed I could watch one movie a week on Friday nights. This is a rule we still have, and I like it. (Sometimes we get to watch an extra movie on Saturday nights.)
I am not saying to keep your child from playing video games, just get them outside for at least one hour or more a day. (It is mainly the TV and video games I am talking about. If your child really wants to go on the computer for maybe ten minutes, you should let them.) At my school, my teacher Mr. Jackson asks us every morning what we did after school the day before. Usually kids say, “I went home, I watched TV, I played video games, and then I went to bed.” What I say is, “I went home, did homework, played outside, ate dinner, and went to sleep.” See the difference?
If you are interested in history, as I am, then you will know that in the history books you never read, “Then he played video games and watched TV.” NO!!
Don’t make your child quit playing video games, just have a limit. Let your child go on the computer, play video games, or watch TV for 30 minutes a day. Then let him go outside, read a book, or go to the park with a friend. But watch out! He or she might try to sneak in some extra time. If they do sneak in extra time, ground them.
Just get your child outside for at least an hour a day.