My Novel Is Not My Baby

I can neglect my novel for weeks at a time and not go to jail. I can edit what my novel says. And I can be reasonably confident that other books on the shelf are not going to push my novel off the shelf to its death.

No matter how complicated a novel is, it can’t match the complications of raising a baby all the way to adulthood.

Maybe, however, parenting is easy for you.

That’s nice.

So, this evening my son decided to spend the last of his birthday gift certificate at a local toy store. Fine with me. He’s 8, by the way. And after a couple years of looking at things in the dollhouse section, he decided to spend his money on a table and chairs and some dishes for a dollhouse he hopes to get in the future. He is fascinated by all those tiny bits of furniture.

He asked me what I thought of these things, and I told him I thought they were cool. Which I do. I liked them when I was his age as well.

Now I support my son in whatever his passions are (You want to have 60 snails race up our front door? Well, okay… You want to spend all day Saturday testing origami boats in buckets of water? Sure…) and if he wants a dollhouse and we can afford it and he’s willing to put his allowance towards it and it won’t get in the way of the dogs, then that’s fine by me.

But I don’t live in Perfectlandia, and I know that it is entirely possible that one of his friends might come over and say something…less than cool. Will he stand up for himself or shove these things out of sight, feelings hurt and money wasted?

Everything I know about him and I can’t answer that question. I want him to like what he wants to like and not be hurt–even though plenty of times in life it feels impossible to do either. But for now he and I share a work space, and we can put these things on a shelf and say they are mine if we need to.

Which may well be teaching him to lie and to hide himself.

My mother used to say–in certain situations–“Tell them your mother did it” or “You can tell them it is your mother’s idea” or “Put the blame on me if that will help.” She meant it sincerely, though I only took her up on that once… “My mother won’t let me.”

“Oh, moms! That’s too bad,” came the reply. But I was off the hook.

It is hard in this day and age when we say we want our children to be themselves and to be happy, but we also know how hard a path that can be.

Well, I think it is hard. I could be wrong.

Do you find it easy?


5 responses to “My Novel Is Not My Baby

  1. Parenthood is the most difficult, most rewarding job there has ever been or ever will be. I think the best we can hope for is to help our kids navigate this crazy world as best they can. Maybe sometimes that means letting them know we’re not perfect, either.

    • Oh, I’m pretty sure my son knows I’m not perfect. My navigational skills aren’t perfect either. Some times I think best I can hope for is that my son will grow up to be a very understanding person.

  2. I also struggle with this issue, as you know. I don’t want my kids to be the weird ones at school, but a little weird can make a kid really popular, and you don’t know what that is until it’s all over with. Having grown up without a strong idea of how to navigate socially makes me worry that I’m not seeing the right cues and will somehow make it harder for my kids.

    But anyway, the dollhouse thing–I think when guys do it they make sure to call them “miniatures,” and though it’s mostly older men I’ve seen with this hobby, it might be the kind of thing a boy might like if they see another boy doing it. It is pretty cool.

    • Oh, that not-so-weird-he-can’t-make-friends thing vs. weird-enough-to-be-interesting thing. Honestly makes me want to throw myself on the floor in despair.

      In my memory–perhaps not the best source of info–I started elementary school fairly well socially. Then came 4th grade–a new school and a new step-mom–and everything went to hell. I accept my son however he is and support his interest, but I also feel it is my job to prepare him for the world…it is unsettling how these things so often don’t line up.

      In any event, I’ve gotten him a “miniature” house and he is so very excited about it. (I had to give it to him early because we live in an apartment and there was no way I was going to be able to keep the thing hidden until Christmas. The box is too big. But on the bright side, he can play with from the very start of his winter break.)

      • Oh, yay for him! Something that brings your kid so much joy can’t be a bad thing. And I laughed out loud at throwing yourself on the floor in despair, because I’ve articulated that feeling the same way. It’s impossible, parenting.

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