Tag Archives: Things my kids say

My ten-year-old’s bucket list

So in the class I’m taking over at The Loft Literary Center, Breaking the Unwritten Rules in Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction, we’ve been talking about clichés and tropes, and about all those unwritten rules we might not even realize are holding us back from something original and startling.

We’ve discussed narration and how to balance entertainment with authenticity when writing a middle grade or young adult character. It reminded me of something Kyra said a while back.

One day after school, she mentioned she had something on her “bucket list.” After I got over my internal freak out about my ten-year-old having a bucket list, I asked her what she meant.

Here’s the thing: she’d never heard the phrase “kicking the bucket.” If she saw it in a story (or heard it in a movie) she would probably ask me what it meant if it wasn’t clear from context.

To her (and her friends), a bucket list represented a figurative bucket where they placed all the things that they’d like to do someday.

In Kyra’s case, this list includes:

  • being a scientist
  • traveling the world
  • painting all her pets’ portraits.

So, as writers, we’re told to avoid clichés because they’ve lost their freshness and meaning. But in some cases, all it takes is the next generation to give the old something new.

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Filed under Getting Schooled, Kids, Writing, YA

Is there a doctor in the house?

Conversation overheard on a Sunday evening:

Me: Kyra can watch her show and I’ll stream an episode of Doctor Who. Then, we can read.

Andrew: No, no, no! Mom, don’t become one of those people!

Me: You mean a Doctor Who fan?

Andrew: Yes!

Me: Are some of your friends fans?

Andrew: Kind of.

Me: Little obsessed, are they?

Andrew (eye roll): …

Me: Well, I just started watching it. I like it.*

Andrew (head in hands, muttering into the pages of his AP World History book): No, no, no, no, no.

Kyra: Dr. Seuss? Can I watch?

* Yes, I know. As of last night, I’ve only watched two episodes of Doctor Who. I have now given up any pretense of nerd/geek cred.

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Filed under Famous people, Kids

Brother turning 16 prompts (minor) existential crisis

So, yesterday was Andrew’s sixteenth birthday. As we were driving to dinner, I overhear this conversation between him and his sister.

Kyra: Andrew! Promise me you’ll get married someday!

Andrew: ?????? Why?

Kyra: I don’t want you to die alone!

Andrew: ????? Uh, okay.

Kyra: And I’ll make sure you’re buried next to your wife! And I’ll visit your grave every week!

Andrew: ?????????

Kyra: And be sure to have kids!

Andrew: Mom …

Yeah. Not really sure what that was all about. Of course, it’s not every day your brother turns sixteen. But then we arrived at the pizza place and that seemed to make everything all right.


Filed under Kids, Musings

Of clothes shopping and BLTs

So yesterday after work, I headed to the mall with my fashion consultant (AKA Kyra) to buy some summer clothes. Somehow every pair of capri pants I own has disintegrated or mysteriously vanished. And dude, it’s nearly 100 degrees outside. I CANNOT wear jeans, even lightweight ones.

So, off to the mall it is! I only shop at one store there, so this cuts down on the angst and decision-making. I figure if they don’t have what I want, it doesn’t exist. Upon entering the store, I went immediately for the earth tones, Kyra gravitated toward color. She wove her way through the displays, selecting outfits for me.

I know what you’re thinking: You shop with your nine-year-old? Here’s the thing: She’s really good at it.

We lugged our armfuls of fashions into the dressing room, where, amazingly, everything fit. I know. I saved the Kyra-selected outfit for last. Once I had it on, she spent about five minutes adjusting the drape, and so on.

Me: You’re really good at this.
Kyra:  Well, you know, I’m probably going to be a fashion designer.

This, of course, is when she’s not being a scientist, a veterinarian, or painting all her pets’ portraits.

Then she tried to get me to pose, hand on hip, the other arm just so, head tilted at a particular angle. No matter what I tried, it didn’t work.

Me: I’m not a very good pose(u)r.

Note: Only I found that funny.

So, not only did everything fit, it was all on sale, and I bought the lot. I’m set for summer. And we did it all in forty minutes. At home, I made BLTs for dinner. Kyra took her first bite and let out a Mmmmm most people reserve for Godiva chocolate.

Kyra: Mama, you may be plain when it comes to clothes, but you’re awesome at cooking.

Yes, when it comes to toasting bread, I know no rival.

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Filed under Clothes, Cooking (disasters), Kids, Musings

A fifteen-year-old’s perspective on Perspectives in American Literature

So, Andrew is taking Perspectives in American Literature this semester–and already they’ve been reading like gangbusters. Well, if gangbusters read, that is. More accurately, they’ve been reading like high school sophomores in Perspectives in American Literature.

Here’s his take so far:

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Once I figured out it’s one of those books without a plot, I kind of liked it.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Everyone in class is complaining about this, but I’m enjoying it.

He really liked reading the play format and said he could see the whole story in his head. Then he wanted to know, since he’s enjoying Perspectives in American Lit so much, if he has a “literary mind.”

I told him he might. He just might.


Filed under Books, Getting Schooled, Kids, Reading

Skateboarding gals, won’t you come out tonight

So this week, Kyra completed her big project for the Junior aMUSE badge set. Previously, she created a girl, and gave her a goal and something that concerned her, and listed some of her favorite things . For you writers out there, if you think this sounds like the start of a character sketch, you’d be right.

The final requirement is completing a play, poem, story, comic, etc. about your girl. Kyra wanted to write a play, with a part for everyone in her troop (fortunately, we’re a small troop and that’s only six parts).

I could not dissuade her. It had to be a play and we’re going to do a read-through performance at the next meeting.

So, she wrote the draft by hand, and then last night, set to work on my computer typing the whole thing out.

The Skateboarding Gals  comes in at three pages and 457 words. The climax involves exploding garbage. I do not know why. I was not the creative consultant for that part of the project.

My favorite part is this:

Halley: I wish I could skateboard

Lilly Suzy and Sally: I’ll teach you

All exchange glances.

Lilly Suzy and Sally: We’ll teach you

Lilly: after the exploding garbage

Then they all ride off (on skateboards) into the sunset. After the exploding garbage, of course. What? You were doubting the happy ending?

I, for one, am looking forward to The Skateboarding Gals limited run in the library’s meeting room. It’s sure to be standing room only.


Filed under Kids, Writing

Blame Spy Girl

English: "G" rating of Motion Pictur...

Last night I managed to watch my first movie for the fifty/fifty challenge. I haven’t watched a lot of movies recently. There’s something about having small children that reduces your entertainment options to those that are strictly G-rated.

Oh, sure, I’d make it to the theater now and then, or watch a DVD when the house was, by some miracle, empty. But mostly? If I couldn’t watch it with the kids, I didn’t watch it.

Fast forward a few years. As far as entertainment goes, things are a bit more laid back. We can have family movie night where the movie appeals to all of us. We each have our own genres we like and the ability to watch on our own.

What better time than now to attempt the movie portion of the fifty/fifty challenge?

So I took out the headphones and the portable DVD player and got all set to watch Gosford Park. Things were going well. I was cozy; the movie was good. Then I noticed Kyra, changing into all black. She smoothed out her hair and added a headband, because, and I quote:

“Spy Girl is always fashionable.”

She spent the evening creeping from one side of our living area to the other, where I was sitting. (Our living area is one big open space. I’d call it a “great room” but that sound pretentious.) Every time movement caught the corner of my eye, I’d glance up.

Spy Girl would curse her bad luck at being spotted and start all over again.

Did I mention that this went on for at least two thirds of the entire movie? (The first third was spent in Spy Girl preparation.)

Is it any wonder I haven’t really watched a (non-rated G or PG) movie at home for the last fifteen years?

Spy Girl is always fashionable. She is also distracting.


Filed under 50/50, Kids, Movies

A young scientist’s work is never done

A few days ago, Kyra commandeered my desk to write her application for the Young Scientists Club at school. We do have other writing surfaces and she routinely does her spelling and math on them. Apparently, my desk is the spot reserved for serious writing.

The Young Scientists Club is very serious.

That being the case, I had her write a draft before writing her final answer on the application form. Then, I edited that draft for her, which needed some punctuation.

Kyra on punctuation:

Sometimes when I’m writing, I just get going and going with the words and I forget to stop to put in the periods.

And yes, her essay was one long compound sentence (and … and … and).

In the end, she decided that she wants to be part of the club because she wants to be a scientist and invent helpful gadgets for the world. Also, robots.

Kyra on robots:

Mama, wouldn’t it be cool if I invented a robot and it followed me home from the club?

I–for one–plan on welcoming our new Kyra-designed robot overlords.

I suggest you do the same.

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Filed under Kids, Musings, Writing

Conversations with my son


[INT. SUV, weekday morning, on way to school]

Son: Mom, is this the real life?

Mom: Or is this just fantasy?

Son: I’m caught in a landslide.

Mom: You know what? There’s really no escape from reality.

Son: Open your eyes.

Mom (pointing): Look up to the skies and see.

Son: I’m just a poor boy

Mom: You need no sympathy

Son: Because I’m easy come, easy go

Mom: Little high, little low.

Son: Any way the wind blows

Mom: Doesn’t really matter to me

Son (dramatic): To me!


Daughter: What are you guys talking about?


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Filed under Kids, music, Video

Girl Drama

As part of the journal keeping book I’m reading (and class I’m taking along with it), we’re required to try experimental ways of keeping a journal for a week. This could include collecting quotes, writing a poem for each day, and so on.

This was my initial response to that:

One poem per day
Our journal class assignment
My brain may explode

 I wrote the following in response to something that went down in Kyra’s afterschool care program.

Girl Drama

A play no one wanted to hear
About five dogs and two cats, who live on the street.
In winter.

Only one friend came to the audition.
The others wanted to make changes. Six dogs! All different breeds! Does it have to be winter?
I’m reminded of H.G. Wells and his quote about the passion to alter someone else’s draft.

No one will ever know if the five stray dogs and two stray cats ever find a home.
They’ll stay on the street. Forever. In winter.
The playwright had too many tears and couldn’t tell me how it ends.


Filed under Kids