There’s a story whirling around in my head that I can’t write because I need to finish another one first.
I was thinking about how there are certain kids, when they come to our house, who are drawn to our laundry shoot. Most houses don’t have one. So, they are enthralled by it. Happy to spend their time just throwing things from the second floor to the basement. Stuffed animals mostly. Or they invent games where one kid throws a ball down the shoot, and the others stand in our laundry room and try to catch it.
Maybe not enough for a story, but…
When I was growing up, my best friend had an elevator in her kitchen.
It was creaky. You pulled a metal gate across before it would go up. And when she pushed the button, I was always a little nervous it would stop mid-route. We’d stare through the gate and watch the drywall beyond it moving, holding our breath a little until it jerked to a stop. At least that’s how I remember it.
I think, if the picture in my head is right, they sometimes stored a few cases of Coke in there.
I have yet to be in another house with an elevator. And I think of the boys at my house, running up and down two flights of stairs, through the kitchen a hundred times during their invented laundry shoot games. How magical my friend’s creaky elevator would seem to them!
Our oldest son is the perfect candidate for independent study. Writing assignments from school require pulling teeth and tears, but apparently, if he chooses the topic and has a goal, he takes it on with relish. Yesterday, he handed my husband and I a stamped envelop addressed to us. Inside was this letter:
Dear Mom and Dad,
I am writing to you to tell you that I really wanted a pet recently, and I found out facts about the pet I want – a parakeet.
The name comes from the French word “paroquet” which translates to parrot.
It is called “bugie” in other countries, such as the UK and Australia.
When tamed, parakeets can talk, whistle, and fly to your shoulder when you call.
Parakeets are loyal and friendly birds who are very social.
I found out all this from Lafeber.com.
I would love a parakeet to have a loyal companion, play with it, and train it. It would make my stressful life easier. If I get one, I will clean out its cage every week and feed it every day.
From your son.
Dear son, Love you, great effort, but no way. Mom and Dad.
Yesterday marked my 500th blog post on jennswondering. It began almost exactly five years ago in an effort to learn blogging so I could list it as a skill for potential clients. It has turned into a five-year (so far) capturing of moments in my sons’ lives. 500 small moments that we, as a family, might otherwise forget. One day, I will share them with the boys, when I am old enough that they feel obligated to forgive me. And they are old enough to recognize what I see in them each time they inspire me to write: unique, funny, creative, sweet, smart, much-loved boys.
I wrote a story about our dog, Star and an incident at the North Pole for my second grader. I thought he might want to illustrate it, since he likes to draw.
My older boys read it first. “Mom, this is good!”
But the second grader had major edits.
The premise is that our wild, clumsy, undisciplined Star causes Dasher to break his leg in a pick-up soccer game only seven days before Christmas. Star and her boy owner then must journey to find a substitute flying reindeer in time to save Christmas.
“But it wasn’t really Star’s fault! It was Dasher’s!”
“Dasher was the one who ran too fast and slid on the ice!”
“Good point,” I said.
“It’s not fair that everyone is mad!”
“You’re a very good editor.”
“Star wasn’t even a little bit naughty, Mom.”
“I definitely have to rewrite that part.”
Is he a natural editor, or has he had too many such playground debates? “It’s not my fault! It’s not fair! I wasn’t even that naughty!”
When my kids lose a tooth, they always want to keep it. And since they lose a bunch as they are learning to write, we have a tradition of writing a note to the tooth fairy, as practice, asking to keep it as a treasure.
My youngest wrote his last night with an elaborately illustrated, colorful scene – his zzz’s rising to the ceiling from a red pillow with a giant winged tooth fairy decked in blue. His note read:
Deere, tuth faree
I lost mi tuth
Pev dote tak mi tuth.
In the first days of summer, as my son transitioned from kindergarten to first grade, he lost his first tooth. In fact, he yanked it out of his mouth after we claimed it still needed a few more days of wiggle time. No fuss.
“Only a little blood, mom.”
And in the time-honored tradition of our family, he wanted to keep his tooth.
So his first summer homework was to write the tooth fairy a letter, which captured this brief moment in time when losing teeth and learning to read and write are things to celebrate.
The hardest thing for any writer to learn is that Draft One is very rarely final. My fourth grader is suffering from that lesson today.
I told him to write down what he wanted to say for an oral book presentation he is supposed to give tomorrow. He is an avid reader, and when inspired, he can convince an entire class to read his latest top pick. Apparently, the book he must present tomorrow did not grab his attention.
This is what he wrote:
The book I read was Flora and Ulysses. Ulysses is a squirrel and Flora is a girl. Flora’s mother wants to kill Ulysses because she wants Flora to be normal. Her mother is a romantic novelist. I think killing isn’t romantic. Any questions?
When I told him to think about what he wanted to add for Draft Two, he claimed that no one else ever says more than that for their book reports, like they are the kings of queens of book reports.
“It’s not fair! I am not saying all that stupid stuff you want me to say about if I liked the book or how it compares to her other books or my favorite character, or…”