This morning, my daughter’s teacher e-mailed us to say that Janie is one of the few second-grade students invited to participate in young writers’ conference tomorrow at the local university.
I’m proud, envious . . .and a tad surprised.
Proud because, hey, that’s our kid getting the chance to do this special thing. We know she’s creative and funny and vocabularied like whoa, but it’s always nice to have outside confirmation.
I’m envious because I wanna go, too. All those energetic, unlimited, uncensored imaginations in one place? What a rush!
But I’ll cop to some honest bafflement.
Yes, Janie is the Undisputed Champion of What If (eight-year old diva division) and tells amazing—and sometimes neverending—stories.* Yes, she can effortlessly convince kids of all ages** to act in her recess plays, which generally involve some combination of fairies, dragons, spies, and aliens and for which she is the screenwriter, line-feeder, director, and star. And yes, she makes up little songs, jokes, and poems all the time.
But it never occurred to me to call her a writer, for the simple reason that all the writers I know like to put words down on paper, computer screens, envelopes, or any manner of etcetera, with anything that will make a mark or leave a pixel.
As far as I know, Janie doesn’t. At all.
It’s a struggle to get her to write three complete, comprehensive sentences describing elements of an assigned story that she clearly understood and enjoyed. I know that’s homework and foot-dragging is de rigueur, but still. She’ll illustrate stories, but she’s reluctant to write them, even when I offer my coveted laptop.
She’ll make the effort for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and birthdays but otherwise, it’s “Meh. I’ll remember it, Mom.”
So if I want to pass along her songs, poems, and stories—or remember them myself—I’m the one who has to transcribe them. I’m all for oral traditions in storytelling, but I can’t follow her around all the time and threatening to do so hasn’t worked.
Maybe the conference is meant to encourage young writers’ to actually, you know, write?
I hope so—I don’t want to wait thirty-odd years for her to finish her first novel.
Or, heaven help me, have to transcribe the whole thing down myself.
*Especially when she’s in trouble.
**She’s apparently the pied-piper of the Kindergarten crowd. She also managed to get the worst girl-hating chauvenist in the third grade to play fairies with her little band for a week. When I asked her how on earth she managed that (his mother wanted to know, too), Janie shrugged and said, “We needed a bad guy, so I told him that trolls kill and eat fairies for lunch.” Oh, right. How did I miss that one?