Monday, May 25, 2009

Book ‘em Danno!

Ever since Katy and Mate (four and two respectively) started sharing a room over a year ago, myself and the good Wife (as opposed to the bad Wife who pops her head up come nagging time), have developed a routine in the mornings that enables us to grab an extra hours dozing time. Mate normally wakes first at about 6am, so I quickly grab him and take him downstairs, chuck him in the sofa bed, and jump in myself for the extra snoozing time. Katy will then wake up at 7am, and snuggle in with her Mum, watch some TV, until boredom and hunger hits at about 7.30am, then we are all reunited.

This works fine unless they both wake up at the same time, say 6.45am, then nothing seems to work, and all hell breaks loose. So we have started an experiment where, when this happens, I just go into them, turn the light on, throw him a few building bricks and her, a book, and just let them get on with it. We don't get the same amount of nap time, but it can be quite fun just listening to them.

Mate has been able to say everyone's name in the house except Katy, but he sussed that out last week, and the words are now all spewing out like verbal diarrhoea. This morning Katy started teaching him new words to say, and helping him with the pronunciation. It all started fairly easily Mum, Dad, Dawn, Katy, Dog (followed by lots of barking from him, and impatience to move on from her), head, tongue (?), clap (followed by lots of clapping, more Katy impatience, woof obviously taught her nothing), hippopotamus! This last one came as a bit of a surprise, especially as Katy can't even pronounce it herself.

I blame my Wife for this, for whilst she is the chief correct-speller-and-all-things-grammar, of the house, she cannot pronounce the long words for toffee. Hearing her attempt to read Katy any book involving dinosaurs is a comic lesson in mispronunciation. John Clesse may be head of the "Ministry of silly walks", but my darling Wife is Vice-chairman of the "Tongue-Tangling Society". I actually fell off the bed laughing the last time she tried to pronounce "Cretaceous", and don't even get me started on "Styracosaurus", too funny.

She has now, quite unreasonably in my opinion, refused to read the night-time story, thus depriving both me, and the kids, of quality mickey-taking time. Now book reading is on my list of chores, along with cooking, gardening, washing, and anything else that requires breaking a sweat. I used to be very self conscious about reading out loud, everything I read came out in a John Major type dull monotone, but armed with the thought that 'how could I be any worse that their Mum', I have started to excel.

I can do the voices, the animal noises, the growls, the roars, the quiet bits, the LOUD BITS, I sometimes even sing. I am a legend in my own Imagination. My very best attribute is the ability to read the rhyming books really fast. This enables me to get downstairs, and into a chair and a beer, a lot quicker than normal. Katy does not even feel short-changed, as she loves it just as much when I muck the words up, as when I ace it.

Another change now that books are in my domain, are the mocking-mummy books. These are normal (but unfamiliar to Katy) books where I can change the plotline to regal her with one of the Wife's drunken exploits. The names are changed to protect the innocent (and guilty), and it can be quite a challenge to fit, say 'drunkenly asking a policeman for a Tango' into a child's story.

This whole process of writing these blogs, has given me a healthy respect for children's authors. I used to be quite dismissive, not of the genre, but of certain types of stories, and would be quite dismissive "Katy, that one is rubbish, put it back". I mean, how hard can it be to write a story for children?

Well, quite hard it seems. I thought it would be quite cool if I could write a story for Mate and Katy, maybe get them to colour in some pictures for it, and maybe even get it published. Such lofty ideas, I had it all planned out. I sat down and started writing the outline for the plot, with the intention to then go back, flesh it out, and add some dialogue. After a few hours pondering, and typing, deleting, and pondering, with some more typing thrown in for good measure, I had my plotline nailed.

I love the word crestfallen, so descriptive, and so apt in this case. To a muted drum roll I give you my story.

There are seven beautiful princesses living alone in the woods, with only a talking bunny and a clumsy deer for company. A Prince comes to rescue them, but he is so ugly, they all kissed frogs to escape, and turned into dinosaurs. All except one, who run off with a wolf with beautiful red fur, and lived happily ever after, raising abandoned baby monkeys. The Prince was so distraught, he locked himself in a tall tower, with only weaving midget for company. The End.

What was I thinking, published, you must be joking. Even if it was, I am sure Disney's copyright lawyers would have a field day with it, such a blatant mishmash and rip off if ever I saw one. I genuinely did not realise as I was working, that I was just rehashing old films. Blame Disney for getting so far into our psyche, I don't know?

I have decided to leave children's books to the experts, experts like Debi Gliori, whose book "No Matter What", I read a while back. It is a fairly simple tale of small fox and his Dad. Small keeps asking his Dad if he would love him if he was grumpy, a bear, a bug, etc. His Dad answers that he will always love him, no matter what. "But what about when you're dead?" Small then asks. The Dad then shows Small the stars in the sky, and explains, "Look at the stars – how they shine and glow, but some of those stars died a long time ago. Still they shine in the evening skies. Love, like starlight, never dies."

I think Shakespeare was the greatest wordsmith and poet, but I think even he would have been proud of that description. It certainly brought tears to my eyes when I read it, and still does to be honest.

Writing kid's books easy? I somehow doubt it, but getting better recognition for your work from this Dad, just got a lot easier.


Russ said...

John Major, man, this Yank had to dig deep into the dusty corners of his brain just to get that reference!

SereneBabe said...

loved this!

Angpang said...

This is such a sweet story! Aww factor 50 I think. Glad you're happy to make a t*t of yourself reading stories, I too launch into voices, sound effects (well knocking on floorboards because there is ALWAYS a knock at the door) and rib-pokes for the scary bits. Have you discovered 'Going on Bear Hunt'? It's The Lord of the Rings for the pre-school crowd. Only John Major could read that without getting involved. Anyhow, keep blogging, petal, you're always a delight to read.

Elizabeth said...

Reading this made me miss those toddler years ... my youngest is 5 - although because she has 2 older brothers and a 16 year old sister she tries to act much older than she is ... what a shame
I also wrote a book when the children were small ... it's somewhere around here ..
Your children will love reading these family blogs when they are older - especially as you are always the clown

Anonymous said...

I am interested to know which accent you give to the little old lady in "A squash and a squeeze". i try to do an irish one but come out a bit asian! Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheifer rock!! What drugs was Judith Kerr on when she wrote "The tiger who came to tea"!? Children's books- i love em................

niftyknits said...

no matter what - a work of genius. I used to teach primary, and apart from the kids the thing I miss most was being able to browse for hours in the kids dept of a bookstore and call it professinal development!