October 10th, 2007

head shot

Be in the Bunk

When you're parenting little ones, there are some dark days in terms of glamour and dignity. 

The times when you drop to your knees and crawl out of your baby's room so as not to disturb the milky stupor you just nursed her into, even though the baby books told you not to...

The times when you sing Tender Shepard all the way from Atlanta to Chicago even though the flight attendants start meeting your gaze with a glare...

The times when so many little arms and legs end up in your bed that you flee into your child's upper bunk to try to get a little sleep yourself.

(And do me a favor, if by some miracle or superhuman self-restraint you haven't had these moments as a mom or dad, could you not mention that? 'Cause the rest of us are trying to keep our morale up around here.)

So call it desperate justification if you will, but I've been thinking lately that these moments are valuable if you're a children's writer. Because WORSE than any of them would be not knowing what it is to crawl across hardwood on your hands and knees, not remembering how to sing Tender Shepard just because you're in your 30's, not experiencing a night's sleep in a top bunk wedged between a stuffed dog and a sippy cup.

I think the whole idea behind writing books with heart is that we've got to have perspective -- their perspective -- on what is comforting or painful, frightening or funny, easy or hard. And maybe being able to put ourselves there with them (on the floor, in the bunk, in the moment) every so often, even though we're The Parents (capital T, capital P), is the way to go. 

Maybe sometimes it oughta be at least as much about their dignity as it is about ours.

My kids aren't crawling or sipping from sippy cups anymore, and they'd prefer that I learn the songs to High School Musical these days. But I'm finding a little bit of comfort in thinking we came out of that sleep-deprived and blurry time with a pretty good sense of ourselves and of each other.  

And now I think I'd better get to work...