Archive for October, 2006


I’ve blogged before about what a sensitive little kid Hamlet is. Recently, though, it’s been cropping up more frequently: a function more of his age, I think, than any other factor. I’m just thankful that a year of speech therapy gave him the ability to express himself.

It started with his first ever story: “Monsters and creatures are out there. They have sharp teeth and sharp claws. And they’re COMING TO GETCHA!” (I swear, we have not been letting him watch our movies. I think we may have discussed The Descent in front of him once, but only in oblique terms. Really.)

More details have been added to the monsters and creatures; monsters resemble dinosaurs, while creatures resemble foliage (he’ll point to bushes and tell us they’re creatures). Meanwhile, he’s found other things to be afraid of: the branch that fell on our roof from a tree, the bee that stung him at this one particular neighbor’s house. Someday I need to call her and tell her why we haven’t been over for playdates.

Interestingly, we can never tell what he’s likely to be afraid of. Some things he would rather meet head on, like monsters and creatures. And Corpse Bride. Others send him into a tailspin. Our way of helping him deal with it? Stories. We tell him, for instance, that Mama Branch gave all the little branches their bath and put them to sleep already, so they won’t fall on our roof anymore. (We cross our fingers while we tell him this.) Next up will be the story of a forklift, which he loved watching until it started heading in our direction.

It’s quite fascinating to me to realize that he’s learning, even at 3, how to deal with nightmares the same way people have dealt with them for millenia: by telling stories that take the edge off, that remind us it is often within our power to exorcise the demons. Although he’s a very hands-on kid, he’s started to come up to me while I’m writing to ask me: “Mama, are those words you’re making? Are those letters?” Yes, they are. Me putting my own fears to rest, most likely. I think I may have found the thing I need to get me through these next few weeks of uselessness. It all comes back to the stories, doesn’t it?

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Occupational hazard?

Neither the husband or I are much into children’s TV programming or music. We are, however, into horror movies, crime fiction, and Tom Waits. And we’re both creative. So I’m going to call it an occupational hazard when things like this happen:

Children’s show (CS): “It was a beautiful, peaceful morning at Caillou’s house, at least until…”
Christa’s imagination (CI): “… the zombies began to invade the backyard.” (I have zombies on the brain. Yesterday, on our anniversary date, we discovered that Max Brooks has a new novel out. I think it’s one of the best pieces of zombie fiction I’ve ever seen.)

CS: “Heh-heh. Wendy’s not heeeere.”
CI: “She fell into Dizzy’s cement mixer. Scoop swore it was an accident, but now she’s at the bottom of Mr. Bentley’s foundation.”

CS: “We had a lot of problems with that goat.”
CI: “So we stewed it for dinner the next night.”

We do a lot of extremely off-color things too, though we wait until the kid is in bed, and anyway that stuff comes mostly from the mind of the husband. Men.

I’m just trying to figure out which came first. Would I come up with such things if I didn’t write crime fiction? Or is it a good thing that I write crime fiction, which provides an outlet? Hmmm…

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