From Crazy Clever to Sorrowful Sobbing in One Short Step

Kids are funny little creatures because of the way their minds work. They’re constantly learning, absorbing information, and figuring out the process of cause and effect, and they can use all this knowledge they’re perpetually gaining to be extraordinarily clever. Yet at the same time they can be easily confused, scared of the unknown, and tricked by illusion, which can make them seem ridiculously, humorously foolish.

And sometimes those two extremes can come together to make priceless, memorable moments.

My daughter has learned how to take a "selfie" with my iPhone...and does so wearing a bike helmet. See what I'm getting at?
My daughter has learned how to take a “selfie” with my iPhone…I’m not sure what category of cleverness/insanity this falls into, so you be the judge. 😛

A few nights ago my daughter was being a little bit of trouble at bedtime. She went to bed fine enough, snuggling her stuffed Rainbow Dash toy, but about a half an hour later I heard banging on her door. She had decided that she wanted her four Sesame Street plushies instead of Rainbow Dash, and she needed me to tuck her back in properly. I obliged, and returned to what I was doing, only to hear banging on her door again about twenty minutes later. She had decided that instead of all four Sesame Street plushies she just wanted her Abby Caddaby, and again, she wanted me to tuck her back in properly. This time I obliged, but I also warned her very sternly, “I don’t want to hear any more banging on that door tonight”. I asked her if she understood and she said yes. I asked her if she promised not to bang on the door anymore and she said yes. She gave me a kiss and said good night and I went on my way.

The key words in this part of the story are “don’t want to hear any more banging on that door”.

Another twenty or so minutes later my husband asked me if I heard the little Missy yelling. I listened, and sure enough I heard her calling my name. By the time I got up to her room she’d called it a further ten or fifteen times. When I opened the door she was standing there, grinning at me, decidedly not banging on the door. I’d been outwitted by a toddler.

I couldn’t be mad, because come on…that’s pretty clever. So I took her to the bathroom (which is what she’d wanted, so I guess it’s good that she decided to be clever) and returned her to her room, where she decided that she no longer wanted Abby; she wanted her miniature Big Bird and Grover toys. I tucked her all in and went back on my way. I wasn’t downstairs for five minutes when hubby and I heard her cry out again, except this time she wasn’t just calling for mommy; it sounded like she was sobbing. I went sprinting up the stairs and found her sitting up in her bed, positively bawling her eyes out. For a moment I thought that perhaps she hadn’t done all of her business in the bathroom and was crying because she’d had an accident, but when I asked her what was wrong she just started sobbing, “Grover! Grover!” A moment later I realized that her little Grover had somehow gotten tangled up in the blankets and she thought she’d lost him. I “rescued” the poor thing and got her all snuggled in again, taking care not to get the blankets too close to Grover this time.

And so I was struck by the humorous workings of a child’s mind. In less than ten minutes she’d both completely outwitted her mother over a wording discrepancy, and totally lost her mind because her toy accidentally left her line of sight.

Aren’t kids just the funniest things sometimes?

Accountability Tuesdays – Week 27

So here we are, on the first week of the second half of the year. It’s time for another accountability post, and I’ve got a confession to make.

That confession is: I have almost nothing to report.

I have done almost no writing, absolutely no editing, I’ve been eating terrible amounts of junky food, and the only exercise I’ve gotten is chasing the baby around. In fact, I’ve really got pretty much nothing of note to report.

Do you want to know why?

Because I’m home. I’m home for a while, with no threat of leaving again any time in the near future, and I’m enjoying it.

I know I can’t slack off forever, but I’ve been having a blast just being mommy and wife. You want to know what I’ve done this past week?

I arrived home on Wednesday and spent the rest of that day just rolling around with my daughter, enjoying the way she turns into a little barnacle when I come home.

On Friday my husband and I packed the baby into our car and we went shopping. We bought presents for my father and his mother (birthdays coming up), grabbed a stuffed Big Bird and Zoe for the baby (which she became extremely attached to), bought some games and fun stuff for ourselves, and picked up a couple of things that we can put away for the baby’s birthday or Christmas.

The next morning, on Saturday, we drove down home for the niece’s birthday party, where we ate barbecue, Ninja Turtle cupcakes, and ice cream cake while the kids had an absolute blast in the pool.

Sunday we took the baby to the parade for the Festival of the Strait (where she received a ton of candy), then I took her to the recreation grounds where she absolutely lost her mind in a giant Disney Princess bouncy castle with a huge slide inside, and in the evening we took her to the free concert after which she “ooh”ed and “ahh”ed and giggled like a maniac at the fireworks.

And yesterday we recovered by staying inside and relaxing.

Doesn’t that all sound awesome? Because it totally was. And during none of it did I worry about writing, editing, eating well, or exercising. Perhaps I should have…but I didn’t. So you’ll excuse me (I hope) when I tell you that I wrote a grand total of 1010 words in the past week, did not so much as glance at any editing, and probably gained a pound or two worth of ice cream cake.

Sorry, I was busy enjoying LIFE!

Pictured: Life Being Enjoyed

With that said, I do know that I’ve got to get down to business at some point (even if I have a ton of other things coming up…wedding…visits…more festivals…), and with that in mind I have a few things to mention.

First of all, I’ve gone on a bit of a learning kick. I know that my zombie apocalypse story isn’t the “next great American novel”, and I know that I myself still have a ton to learn about being a good writer, so I’m taking it upon myself to start actually doing the research. I’ve purchased three books to start myself off with:
Kristen Lamb’s Rise of the Machines
Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way
Stephen King’s On Writing

From Kristen I hope to learn how to build a viable author platform (which, a year ago, I didn’t even know was a thing). From Julia I hope to learn some tricks and exercises to make myself a better, more efficient writer. From Stephen…well, I just hope to learn something because I love his writing and in case you haven’t notice, he’s been a wee bit successful.

I’m halfway through Kristen’s book right now, and already learning a lot, so if anyone has any suggestions for some other craft books I might want to read after these three, please feel free to let me know!

The second thing I want to mention is a bit of a vanity thing…upon publishing yesterday’s post I noticed that today would mark my 300th post on this blog. It may not be one of those super-satisfying numbers like 1000, but this is a big deal to me. A few months ago I surpassed a year of doing this blog, and now I can officially say that I’ve written several hundred posts. How awesome is that? Maybe I have a little bit of persistence in me after all!


And with that, I bid you adieu for the day. I have a lot of things to do, the least of which is definitely not jumping on my daughter’s bed and helping her cuddle all her Sesame Street characters. Ta!

Dealing with (Imaginary) Death

My daughter loves Sesame Street. She knows a ton of characters, even if she can’t quite pronounce them all (“Tookie! Ahnie!”), and if we’d let her she’d have our living room television playing episodes and specials all day, every day, until the Elmo’s World theme song made our heads explode.

If you can handle ten hours of this a day, you are the toughest person I know.

It is for this reason that my husband tracked down “40 Years of Sunny Days”, a special done a few years back that documented a bunch of famous scenes from over the first (first!) 40 years of the show’s life. I popped the show on the other day, partly for the little missy, but also partly because I was curious to see which of the scenes I remember from my childhood would pop up.

Tell me you don’t remember this, I dare you.

At one point – I believe it was somewhere in the “Years 10-15” section – a scene came on that I’d never caught when I was a kid because it was an old episode by the time I was watching. It was the episode where Mr Hooper dies and the adults have to explain to Big Bird about death. In the scene, Big Bird has drawn pictures of all his adult human friends and is passing them out as everyone oohs and ahhs over what a great job he’s done. When he comes to the end and asks where Mr Hooper is so he can give him his picture the adults go silent and look at each other like no one wants to have to be the one to explain it. They take turns explaining to Big Bird (“Don’t you remember? We told you that Mr Hooper died?”), who reacts with the same kind of misunderstanding, anger, and distress that a small child might. Eventually he comes to grips with what the adults are telling him and says that he’ll miss Mr Hooper, as he hangs the picture he’s drawn up at Hooper’s Store.

I won’t lie; I almost teared up. The baby, of course, had no idea what she was watching, but I certainly did. Strangely, though, the primary thought that was running through my mind as I watched the scene play out was, “How hard must it have been for the writers to prepare this scene?” Unlike writing the deaths of fictional characters, the writers for Sesame Street were writing about the actual death of a man they’d worked with, who had been on the show for many years and was an important part of the world which they’d created together. He wasn’t just a character, he was their friend. I can imagine it would have been even more difficult for the actors who had to perform the scene. In fact, one of the other actors, Bob McGrath, was quoted as saying, “I couldn’t go near the store for about a year after he was gone” and the scene in question was done in one take because the crew was too emotional after the first try to do another one.

The whole thing amazed me quite a bit because of how emotional I can get when my completely fictional characters are killed off. Even though these are people who exist only in my own mind, I’ve found myself nearly in tears when it came time for one of them to die. Maybe that means I’ve written them to be likable. Maybe it just means I’m a huge sook. Either way, it can be surprisingly difficult sometimes. I’ve even been known to fight with myself over whether or not I can change the story so that the character doesn’t have to die. It’s this attitude that is making it so difficult for me to figure out the (eventual) ending to my fantasy novel. Logic dictates that one of two particular characters has to die in order for the ending to make sense, but it kills me to do that to either of them.

Do other writers deal with this, I wonder? I mean, without the character in question being someone they actually knew?