Children’s Capers and Writing

“Mummy, mummy!”

The soft cloud I’m sleeping on bounces up and down, jolting me out of the Land of Nod. I crack open one eye and peer at the cherub perched on the edge of my bed. “Wha?” I mumble then close my eye and hope she takes the hint to go away.

The bouncing continues. “Is it my turn to get the mail? Rebekah says it’s her turn to get the mail. Why don’t I get a turn?”

Rebekah thinks every day is her turn. I crack open my eye again peer out the window behind my bed. There is daylight, the kind that has just fought a valiant battle with night and is leading its way across the sky. Our postie is punctual and enthusiastic, but I doubt even he is up this early. My mind shrugs off sleep and I blink, trying to remember what day it is. Wednesday I think. Maybe Thursday. No, it is Thursday I need to do my bible study. “Yes, today is your turn. But I don’t think the mail has been yet, Rachel.”

“Okay!” She half falls off my bed and I hear her footsteps pound the wood floor. The screen door slams then I hear the click of the front gate followed by the slam of the mailbox. My children have an over-enthusiasm for collecting the mail. So much so I’ve had to put them on a roster to collect it. Eldest on Monday, 2nd child on Tuesday and so forth. Having 4 children means Friday ends up a day for someone who has missed a turn or I have a turn and spend 10 minutes chatting with the postie and swapping yarns. Ah. This sort of thing will have to make it into a book someday. I’m sure. 🙂

Fast forward a few hours…

Schoolwork around the kitchen table.

I listen to one child read, prod another to

‘Do your math! Please, build the next question!’

Explain why Australia went to war (is there any comfortable or rational explanation for that?).

And.. wait… back! I glance over at child no. 2 as he reads. A word catches my eye. It sounded fine as he read it, but…

“That’s the wrong spelling!” I exclaim. “Give me that book!” He grins, happy to get out of reading and hands the book over. All the other children gather around and I re-read the sentence, poking the offending word with a finger. Then follows a discussion as I scribble the different ways that word can be spelled on paper and what they mean. Of course they then chime in with examples in movies they’ve seen or how so-and-so did this (which is now hopelessly off track topic-wise, but nonetheless interesting). I shoo them back to their work and we carry on with work.

A picture tells a thousand words…

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My two youngest on the left, a cousin on the right and my eldest forehead in the bottom right in our 8 seater Ford stationwagon. That day was fun. Sort of. Now when I look back on it… We spent the whole day cleaning a house and packing up my sister to move. So all the last minute things got shoved in my car (no room in hers. We were running out of room to put plates near the end of the day and both of us pack really well!) Then we realised.. oh, 8 seats and we had 7 children between us and 2 adults. Those of us who can add will realise that someone has to run behind. Only thing is… my house is over 50kms away. No problem. Two children can share a seatbelt. Then we realised that mum had deposited some money in my account. And seeing as we were in a town that has a Woolies….That means food shopping! So $200 in food later we head out to the car. Pack the children in first, seatbelts on, then start packing shopping around them. That was interesting! When we drove off we had: 2 adults in the front seats (I had room at my feet and that’s only cos I needed to use the pedals), 4 in the backseat–that’s including the baby seat, no feet space, at least 2-3 mops and brooms next to them and a mower and catcher. (yes, you read that right.), the boot seat had 3 children and the rest of the $200 bucks worth of shopping. Oh, and tucked somewhere in all of that was a maltese terrier dog. 🙂 Good thing there wasn’t many bumps on the way home, I’m sure I would have felt the car bottom out on every bump otherwise. 🙂

Very happy to not repeat that experience. However some poor unsuspecting character might. Not sure how in a historical setting… but I’m sure I’ll find a way!

After dinner I’m knee deep in editing and critiques. Add in more detail of storefronts of buildings. I squint at the comment again and sigh. I mean, can’t the characters just walk on into the shop without noticing the surroundings… No? Well, that means some research then of 1881 mercantile storefronts. I’ll start by googling… My fingers hesitate above my laptop keys. Or, will I? I smile and lean over to my oldest daughter is sitting cross legged on my bed next to me.

I nudge her with my elbow. “Hey, what do store front’s on old streets look like?”

She pulls a headphone out of her ear and looks at me. “What?”

I refrain from rolling my eyes. This is an expert at old movies. If it’s an old movie and suitable for under 13’s then she’s probably seen it. A picture tells a thousand words… “I said, what do the store front’s on shops in old movies look like?”

“Ah!” Her eyes light up and she launches into descriptions of buildings, people and most importantly–mercantile stores.

My fingers speed across the keyboard, trying to keep up. Eventually she runs out of breath and quiets. I finish typing my sentence and look at her. “Thanks!”

She nods. “No problem. I like movies.”

This time I do roll my eyes. “I know.”

She sticks her headphones back in and goes back to her ipod. I review what I’ve typed up and smile. Perfect. And better yet, I can imagine what they look like thanks to the memory jog of the different movies these are set in. I begin rewording and adjusting what I’ve written, a sappy smile I’m sure plastered on my face.

I love research.

I love writing… and

I love my children. They help me write–and yes, sometimes they don’t help me write. They help with research and they listen when I ramble on about my ‘cool’ idea for a character. They provide oodles of examples of how people react to each other, and the funny stuff they do provide lots of examples for my writing.

How about you? Do you have children? Nieces, nephews? Some random child who walks past at 3pm every day with his blue cap on backwards and a butterfly on a string. Do they provide inspiration for you stories? Quirks for characters? A giggle for levity?

I know mine do. 🙂

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Sumo wrestling next to our lake. They were so hilarious as they attempted to swat each other. Then they’d totter on their matchlike legs. Teeter…then… timberrrrr! Splat. They’d hit the mat. Usually face first. Far too much padding to get hurt. But my goodness they were so funny I could barely keep the camera straight. I had to take pictures, that way I can giggle later at inopportune times in memory. Don’t worry, they loved it. 🙂

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