Being influential: the terrible responsibility

One of those scary things about having kids is how they start doing as you say and do.

My daughter is seven. For the last few years I’ve let her choose her own Halloween costume which drives me a little crazy because she never settles on anything and it’s always last minute. This year she was much more interested in looking at the decorations and party stuff than the costumes and then suddenly was set on this monkey hood with ears and a vinyl nose mask. Okay.

Well, the mask thing didn’t last any time at all. I don’t know if it was uncomfortable or smelled like vinyl, but she wasn’t having it. Still she was happy to be a monkey. Only full monkey suits are only for toddlers. See, my husband is a big guy, and my daughter is very tall and big-boned. Her shoulder span is almost the same as mine and she’s in second grade. She hasn’t been able to wear little kid clothes for a few years now–a circumstance that causes me undue stress year ’round as I look for non-slutty clothes that suit a second-grader who happens to wear a size 12-14.

Anyway, suffice it to say that with all the slutty Halloween costumes for little girls now, finding a costume is equally daunting. When she chose the monkey, I tried to find her a brownish leotard and tights. The closest I could get was nude. But when I got them home…not decent enough. Especially not for down here in the South where people absolutely freak out over things like little kids who can’t quite keep their pants from slipping and showing a little crack. You know, they’re not doing it on purpose, it happens, OMG. Seriously, another mom pulled me aside at Chuck E Cheese when B was three to let me know about the problem and informed me that if her six year old let that happen, she would kill her. Really? Plumber’s crack is a capitol crime now? Wow.

But I digress. Bigtime. I bought a tutu-like skirt to go over leotard. Well, Briar didn’t want to be a dancing monkey, but then decided she was going to be a mama monkey. So she got together a stuffed monkey baby and some baby care items and wore that to school on Friday for their Halloween stuff.

By Monday she was no longer interested in being a monkey. I was trying to get us out the door for dance class and told her I didn’t care what she wore, but she needed to get a costume from her dress up box and put it on. I made some suggestions. I should never do this. The last thing she’ll pick is something I suggested.

So she goes, “What would Buffy wear?”

Now, generally speaking, I think this is a decent question for a girl to ask herself, though maybe not at seven, but I was like, “No, you can’t be Buffy. She just wears regular clothes, which is hardly a costume, and then no one’s going to get that it’s a costume and we can’t go trick or treating if you don’t dress up as something.

She comes back a few moments later with this white moose beanie baby and says, “This is Edward. I need a stake.”

Do you see the influence of me at work here? My kid doesn’t watch Buffy, she just watches me wear my Buffy staked Edward shirt a lot and knows that I love it. So I went to dig under my bed for my stake, but I think the dog must have eaten it because it wasn’t there. Note to self: check emergency equipment more often.

So Les went out to his workshop to make her a new, blunt, kid-friendly stake in the last few minutes before we had to leave and Briar went for Halloween as Buffy staking Edward.

Briar also does a lot of story-telling, talks a lot about writing books, and this morning we talked about creating a video game together someday (when she learns the computer stuff).

All this makes me think about writers and their kids. About PC Cast writing with her daughter, about how excited Lauralynn Elliott is that one of her boys has started writing, and I think Holly Lisle (or some other writer I follow?) recently said that her son is writing.

Kait will remember this: A few years ago, she and I came across a blog post in which an author’s daughter showed an interest in writing, and that author was actively trying to talk her out of it and into something more practical. Both Kait and I, having spent a lot of time in school and trying to do things that were more practical, were very affected by this. It’s one thing when people who don’t get it bash at your writerly dreams, but that was just sad. It’s not that we don’t get that most everyone has to do something else to support themselves, but that wasn’t how this mom talked. It was more: I want her to give this up and go do something with her life.

Years later, that post is still with me and I wonder how other writers and book lovers feel about it. Would you be excited if your kid came home and said she was going to be an author when she grows up?

Would you like to regale us with tales of your influence over your kids?

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Being influential: the terrible responsibility

  1. OMG that post still makes me shudder to remember. I think that author should be ashamed of herself. There’s a big big difference between preparing your kid to be able to have some kind of practical job to pay the bills while pursuing his or her dream. It’s another thing altogether to basically say your dream sucks and you should abandon it entirely. God knows it’s likely that my kid will wind up interested in writing, music, theater, and/or photography (I think that covers all the art forms between me and hubby). I fully intend to foster that creativity as much as I am able while still giving a solid practical ground work about this is what you have to do to make this work.

    I love that B went as Buffy Staked Edward. I also love that she told me all about the zombie evacuation plan when I was last visiting. That was pretty awesome.

  2. I don’t have kids, but your mention of that last post really affected me. Why would you do that, especially if you’re an author yourself? I also don’t understand why there isn’t any middle ground here. It’s one thing to be realistic and encourage your child to explore other interests so that they can have other means of financial support – it’s another thing to just crush all writing dreams wholesale.

    Your daughter’s costume turned out adorable, by the way! I think it’s wonderful that she’s Buffy staking Edward, and that Edward is a white beanie baby. 😀

  3. My daughter loves music and art, and we do all we can to encourage that, while also encouraging her to pursue other, more practical interests. I can’t imagine doing otherwise. I have to admit I’m not fond of halloween – too many years of having to come up with those last minute costumes!

  4. Buffy staking Edward is a pretty sweet costume, but its a little sad to see the Mama Monkey one going, too! That sounded adorable, and your daughter sounds incredibly resourceful, clever, and creative. Surely some great influences from here parents on that one!

    I don’t have children, though I would like them one day if my life goes down that path; as of now, it’s just two cats. And anyone with cats will tell you that there’s absolutely no influencing them no matter how hard you try…

  5. Susan Kelly

    I support any and all passions. Um, except if it was something toxic and poison, like alcoholism.

    My son is 19, and is a “brony,” a fan of the My Little Pony animated cartoon. He’s otherwise pretty classic boy — martial arts, computer gaming, girls and hanging out with the guys — but he loves the innocence of the show. He gets a lot of grief from people who don’t understand that it’s kind of like a declaration of the intention to not be cynical about life. I’m very happy to support him in this. (But I didn’t have anything to do with instigating it.)

    I was thinking that I might encourage him to put YWriter on his laptop, just so he can fool around with characters and settings and items if he wants to. His dad and I both talk about writing a lot (and write a lot) so perhaps it’s rubbing off on the son.

  6. asraidevin

    We have broken our children to be gamers in our house. My son will drag people, anyone will do, to play Wii. My daughter is a final Fantasy fan.
    Also I taught my son to do the bum-bum-bum in Sweet Caroline much to his sisters chagrin.

  7. heatherishither

    I will support whatever my kids want to be (but will try to make them writers using subliminal messages). The only thing I’ll make them do is pick an instrument to learn.

  8. Oops, I’m a little late here – somehow missed this post!

    I can just picture these scenes with your daughter, having met her. She’s an amazing kid, but most amazing kids have minds of their own. LOL

    That’s really sad that an author could even think about dissuading her child from writing. Although, it’s practical to suggest that the child pursue other options as well, the writing should be encouraged if that’s what the child wants to do. My mom has always been the most supportive person in the world and would never have discouraged me from something I really wanted.

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