People quite often read my blog and tell me they’re not baby people either. I’d been chatting to Chris Eastvedt on twitter and she approached me about writing a guest post. Why not, I thought. Then I heard what the topic was planned to be. I guess having a parenting blog (and children) without loving kids is strange, but you’d expect a children’s book author to be interested in children too…wouldn’t you? Here’s Chris’ take on writing for children.
This may be an outrageous thing for a children’s author to admit, but I don’t enjoy spending time with kids. I’m not saying I hate them, or want them all to disappear, but inviting me to a children’s birthday party, play date, or, God forbid, asking me to babysit, would be bad for all involved. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big supporter of the ideals of childhood: creativity, imagination, adventure and discovery, and practice them myself as often as possible, but some days it takes everything I have to just to deal with adults; the prospect of throwing a needy kid into the mix is cringeworthy to say the least.
Now, I’m not an ogre: I love animals. The moment I see one: whale, chicken, bearded dragon, whatever, I immediately want to say hi, and would be happy to spend the day hanging out with them. But put me in a room with a kid and I immediately start looking for an exit. You see, animals are logical; they don’t scream when they’re tired, they go to sleep. Animals manage to eat their food, as opposed to wearing it, or using it to decorate the house. Animals also don’t go into full-on tantrums when you don’t let them hold something. This is behaviour I can understand and appreciate. Human children, on the other hand, are a different animal entirely.
Someone reading this right now, possibly even you, might be offended that their precious snowflake has just been ranked lower on the likeability scale than a chicken. To that I must respectfully say, don’t take things so personally. Yes, my not liking children probably extends to yours, but big deal. I’m sure plenty of people already love your children so they don’t need a stranger’s validation, and neither do you. Moving on…
It’s not that I dislike kids on a personal level (with a few exceptions), they just don’t have much to offer me. Kids and I have different interests: I don’t waste time pretending to like people who bore me at a party, so why would I do it for someone’s kid? The thing is, I don’t know what to do with children. I talk fast, gesture wildly and have a brain that moves a mile a minute. Kids move slowly, and they miss subtle things like wit, nuance and sarcasm. Most adults think I’m funny, but surprisingly kids, not so much. I’m uncomfortable when a child greets some of my best lines with a straight face or furrowed brow, but telling myself “it’s not me, it’s them,” seems a little petty. And of course trying to relate to them on their level is nearly impossible. I have zero interest in Thomas the Tank Engine, couldn’t sing a Wiggles song to save my life and have always found Sesame Street characters highly annoying. As they say in the movies, it appears children and I are at an impasse.
So that brings me back to my fervent need to write a children’s book, which is basically an act of self-preservation. Instead of complaining about all the things I don’t like in kids, I’m trying to coach the little darlings into becoming as interesting and reasonable as possible on their way to adulthood. My favorite word growing up was always “why?” It annoyed the hell out of adults, but it taught me how to think and develop into an effective communicator. Everyone has opinions, but surprisingly few know not only why they believe what they do, but are able to defend their beliefs in a clear and convincing manner. This needs to change, and I’m hoping to help.
Clearly I’m not Mary Poppins, and I don’t want to be, but I am an entertainer with a mission to try to make the world a better place. If I can amuse children, from a distance, while empowering them to be more appealing in the process, I will have succeeded.
Chris Eastvedt is a novelist and author of the children’s eBook, Free Toes!. Visit her at www.ChrisEastvedt.com