Put her on your reading list for 2032

As I was checking Jane’s homework last night,* I accidentally flipped past her reading comp questions and found something different.

It was a lot longer than I’ve come to expect from one of her assignments—we’re still working on the concept that complete sentences aren’t a phenomenal waste of her time— and was printed in her best handwriting, which I rarely see.

“Hey, Janie?  What’s this?”

“Oh!  That’s my Shadow story—we had to write that adventure thing, remember?  I told you about it.”

Uh . . . “The one with the woman hunting magic jewels?”

“To help the poor people with, yeah.”  She frowned.  “It’s in the wrong notebook.”

“Where is it supposed to be?”

“The math one.”

“You keep a writing assignment in your math notebook?”

She tsked at me.  “It’s not an assignment anymore—I turned it in months ago.  I’m just doing it by myself now.”

“In your math notebook?”


During math?”

“After I’m done with math.” As I pondered the different interpretations of this sentence** and what parental response might be necessary, she tore out the story and turned to go.

“Wait—can I read it?”


I watched her watch me out of the corner of my eye—smiling when I smiled, leaning over to help when I couldn’t interpret a word,*** trying to figure out why I laughed where I laughed.

Sounds vaguely familiar, doesn’t it?

“I really like this, kiddo.”

She grinned.  “Thanks.”

“Can I share this with a few people?”

The grin got bigger.  “On the blog?”

“If you’re okay with that.”

“Yes!  I mean, only if you want to.  Um . . . you can fix the spelling just this once.  But nothing else.”

I present to you a transcribed passage from “Shadow and the Snake Ruby” by one Jane Wesson (©2011), with spelling corrected by request of the author (with best attempts footnoted), but the punctuation and syntax left in its original state (please note the ellipsis and the little em-dash at the end—I’m so proud^):

The door opened and the guard stepped out of the room in to a cave.  The floor was filled with lava and the platform moved back!

Shadow was stuck on a cliff and grabbed the grappling hook^^ from her pocket and fired at another cliff and jumped.

Shadow shouted, “Catch me if you can fools!”  When she landed there was a door and symbols.^^^  Shadow felt the door eventually,° it opened and she went in.

“Wow!” Shadow said.  It was amazing!  In the metal there was the . . . Snake Ruby!

Shadow grabbed the ruby but traps were set and fired!  Shadow ran and ran.  She took a knife and a twig from her pocket.  Shadow cut the ruby and tied it to the twig and cast spell on the room.

A black light shone and the room changed to a cute room.  Shadow pressed a button and a bed, lamp, closet with black dress, and servants appeared.

Shadow put on a dress and ate lunch.  When she was done Shadow came to the door and looked out.  The lava was gone in its place was a carpet and furniture.  The guards were servants—it was amazing!

I fully admit to being biased—hard to avoid it.  But I do know a storyteller when I read one.


* I don’t interfere too much—can’t even try when it’s French—but I do check her assignment book against what’s actually been done and make sure the answers she’s giving are for the questions she’s been asked.

** It wouldn’t surprise me at all that this kid would be done with math before math was done with her—she’s one of mine.

*** I’m not supposed to correct her spelling—teacher’s orders.  I thought I was going to have an aneurysm at first, or break off a gritted tooth or two, but now I only ask her to correct the ones I can’t figure out on my own.  I still get that throbbing vein in my forehead, but I do retain sight in both eyes now.  Perhaps her fourth grade teacher will have mercy on me.

^ If you aren’t convinced that mathematical attitude (not aptitude, ’cause how would I know) proves maternity, this should do it.  She’s not old enough to read most of the stuff I write—or particularly interested, to be honest—so it must be nature.

^^ Originally, grapoling huck

^^^ simbels

° evanchully

33 thoughts on “Put her on your reading list for 2032

    • I know!!! 😀

      I’m trying so hard to keep my sticky fingers off and remember that my only job in this is to give her plenty of blank paper, pens, and approval.

        • I swear to whomever is listening that if she decides on an MFA, I will not suggest she get an education degree instead, “to fall back on.” I will hug her and send her vitamins and clementines and pre-forgiven loans.

  1. That was awesome! Oh, my child self is sooo envious of your Janie. I did not write for fun when I was younger, only for assignments. Your good example has given her permission to be free to write for the love of it.

    And if she chooses to keep writing, the spelling will take care of itself.

  2. i’ve never seen pictures of either of you, but, man, does your daughter take after her mom or what!!!

    very impressive.

    (and, oh how i appreciate this story taking up where math leaves off.)

  3. Love, love, love!

    Okay, can you please ask her where I can find Shadow’s pants that contain a grappling hook, knife AND a twig. Awesome.
    Oh and the fact that there is no knight in shining armor coming to save the day?? Double awesome.
    And the last bit about the guards being her servants…hehehe, love.

    Just the fact that she wants to do something she sees her mom doing is so cool. Speaking of cool, my oldest son is now a Coolmath.com junkie, which is far preferable to some of the other stuff, so thank you.
    And I am with you on the aneurysm. I am allowed to say (direct quote), “Does this look right to you?” but not to correct spelling. So, so tough…

    • I’ll ask about the pants.

      Janie doesn’t get the knight thing, unless the Princess is the knight. Wait around in a tower? Please. And the guard twist dropped my jaw—she’s eight.

      Coolmath rocks. Let me know if he can give me tips on the Hardest Game Ever. It’s driving me insane(r).

      I tried the “Does this look right to you?” question and received only a slow blink and a flat, “Yes.” Never bothered again.

      • She’s 8. And she’s got just the right mom. Cheers to both of you.

        And the Princess is the knight. What a welcome surprise this is.

  4. This is beautiful stuff, Sarah. And now the challenge begins. That is, not allowing anyone or anything to silence her.

  5. I’m so ambivalent about this. Part of me wants to see you become a stage mother, part of me wants to tell you to back off. I do believe this: the best thing is for her to see you busy in your own work, and willing to support her in hers. This is beyond the mother-daughter bond. The fact that she did not immediately share it with you is telling. You might have to surrender her to someone else in terms of developing her talent. Let her assume that writing is the most natural thing in the world. That said, maybe you can have a letter-writing relationship, if you don’t already. No grading, no editing. Another suggestion: buy a couple of magazines that accept children’s submishes and see if they catch her interest. But then, recognition too early can be a detriment. I know I sound terribly know-it-all, but I’m just offering my perspective, which you can take or leave. Speaking as a daughter who never fully grew up (I have no children), the great burden of my life was my mother’s unfulfilled ambition.

      • Don’t be—you’ve made a lot of valid points.

        I already ask her to draw or paint me pictures, or play songs for me to show her that I value those talents . . . I might try asking her to write me stories or poems, or tell them to me so I can write them down.

        Her mother’s ambitions are a bit trickier . . . but I’m working on them. 🙂

  6. Oh. My. Goodness. That baby, that little softie. “Catch me if you can fools!”

    Go ON with yo bad self, Janie. I wanna eat you with a spoon. (Okay, this is weird but what I tell my youngest is that I’m sure his head is full of jelly. I beg him to let me put a spoon in his ear for a taste. Ewww, Maaahm!)

  7. I am wowed.

    Clearly, she has the interest. And the talent.

    I do understand what TP meant though. You need to tread carefully here. I was the exact same age when I asked my mother to type up my first short story and make copies. This was MY idea, and I sold them for ten cents each to my classmates and my teacher. (I think I sold a total of eight–I was thrilled!) But a couple months later, I came out of my bedroom and found her reading some of my poems to a couple friends. I know she was proud and just assumed this would be OK with me, but I was horrified. I threw the entire notebook–filled with every poem I’d written–into the trash.

    I regretted it soon after, but it was too late.

    As long as you continue handling this the way you did this time–encouraging her but allowing her to mark the course–you’ll be fine.

    Very exciting!

    • Good advice, Sherry!

      I know what you mean—I hid my story notebook in what I assumed was a safe place, until my Dad mentioned something that I’d written. I was hideously embarrassed.

  8. Somehow I never read this one before today. My Bad. Just proves apples don”t fall far from trees. Your Dad was just this week cleaning out his file drawers and found your note books.


      Seriously, though, we’re very proud of her—this kid is creative. And a slob—go, genetics! 🙂

      And I’m having a very strange reaction to my mother saying, “My Bad” non-ironically. Was D.R. over recently?

        • We get that a lot at restaurants, too, Sherry. 🙂

          Dad likes to discuss, at length, the more embarrassing things I wrote in the angstiest periods in my life. I think he likes the way I twitch…

          D.R., is my oldest nephew—i can always tell when Mom’s been talking with him!

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