It’s a given: all parents are inordinately proud of anything their children create. From the first rudimentary crayon etchings to the hand-made popsicle stick picture frames, we simply live to marvel over anything they’ve put their hearts and minds to.
I’ll never forget the absolute thrill I experienced when my son produced his first “drawing.” You see, according to my sleep-deprived, slightly deranged mind, this was the first sign that he was communicating with me. Up until then, I had been doing all the talking, keeping up a non-stop stream of conversation in which I asked and answered all the questions, made all the observations, cracked the best “A priest, a rabbi and a lawyer walked into a bar” jokes.
When he finally put Crayola to paper and left a permanent imprint, I felt like, for the first time, I was privy to what was going on in that sweet little head:
I know, I know: he’s a friggin’ GENIUS, right?
When he started preschool it became my daily thrill to dig through his Thomas the Train backpack and pull out his drawings, his paintings and his collages.
The excitement only grew when his sister started school. Now that they’re old enough to write, opening their backpacks every day has become even more interesting.
My son has become a particularly prolific author, although his earlier work tended to get bogged down with details:
Chapter One spring break
It was spring break and Alice was going to Ashley’s house. I can’t wait to be there Alice exclaimed.
All right calm down said her father. She was 9 1/2 years old and Ashley appeared to be 10 or 11 years old. But Ashley’s half birthday was tomorrow. She’ll be 10 1/2 tomorrow her father exclaimed.
Her father was 47 3/4.
It evolved as he discovered new elements of punctuation:
Chapter 2 It Begins to Snow
Let’s read books said Ashley! Okay said Alice! You read! said Alice!
Chapter 1 Piano Lessons!
Ohhh! said Ashley! one day Lily was going to get piano lessons. She was 10 years old. Ohh! just like you exclaimed Alice! Then Mr. Handmachine stepped up to Lily!
(He also obviously had issues with chronology. And I don’t even want to know who Mr. Handmachine is.)
After reading six pages of the following, I had a talk with him about pacing:
For a while, many of his stories focused on super heroes, such as the high-concept character known as:
And the dignified:
When he began reading ghost stories his own writing focused more on the macabre. Let me tell you, as a parent nothing makes you prouder than to know your 8-year-old produced the following:
“Thooommmassss and Crrrissss haavvveee a nice triiipp, moaned the ghost. And the ghost got out a razor blade and it cut out Thomas and Cris’s stomach and blood was everywhere. The End!”
So stinkin’ cute.
The real hero in this situation, though, is his teacher. Not once has this lovely man suggested professional help or called my son a psycho. Instead, he writes the sweetest, most encouraging notes in the margins.
Considering the following passage:
“It was a dark and stormy night and Thomas and Chris were heading back to their house. And when they opened the door and their parents were hanging on the wall.”
If you squint you can see that his teacher wrote the following:
“I bet they were surprised!”
Of course, my son isn’t the only talented author in the class. Two of his friends have written a series of novellas dedicated to my son recounting the adventures of a hamburger named Sesome (deliberately spelled incorrectly, they assured me). I must say, Sesome is one of the most three-dimensional characters I’ve come across in recent memory.
Consider this passage:
“One day Sesome could not get out of bed. He could not stop thinking about Mrs. Frenchie. She was hot, well, at least to him.”
They are truly masterful authors to let the reader decide whether Mrs. Frenchie was, indeed, “hot” by objective standards, or attractive only to Sesome because of some detected spark between the two.
Nearly as impressive is their ability to weave modern American slang into their prose. Consider this passage, after Sesome successfully thwarts a bank robbery:
“…Sesome grabbed the bag and ran. He gave it to the PoPo (police).”
Aren’t kids awesome???
This isn’t to say that they limit themselves to the short story genre. Here is a poem my son wrote and then tried to charge me for:
My mom’s poem
My mom is cool because she is really nice. She let’s Stella the cat in. She is 40 years old. She is very nice to us. She cooke’s dinner. She stays healthy and calm!
You know what? I am cool. And nice. And I do spend all day letting the cat in and cooking dinner.
But he didn’t get a dime.
Then there was this public service announcement masquerading as fiction:
The Very Ughly Lady
Once upon a time there (three) sister’s. Two sister’s were good. But the third was smoking. She was super ughly!!! The End
I could be wrong here, but I think he is trying to say that smoking is bad and anyone who does it is not only bad but ugly. Not just regular ugly either but UGHLY, with an “h.”
Of course, I don’t always understand everything I pull from his bag. Since I’ve never played dodge ball (let alone “doogeball”) in full protective gear against an angry village mob, this threw me for a loop:
And I’m beyond curious as to what is happening to the unfortunate creature on the right:
This is not to say that my son is the only one who makes my heart burst with maternal pride. The following missive recounting our cat’s hygiene practices was penned by my daughter and shall remain in my possession for eternity:
Just. So. Proud.
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