Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Maybe my Hair is Naturally Stiff

And Other Truths of Childhood

Or, how to find inspiration in the mundane.

I don’t know how long it had been since he’d used shampoo. Each morning I heard the shower running. I saw, as he flew out the door for school, that he had on a different shirt than the one he wore yesterday. That should have been good enough, shouldn’t it?

But one morning I surfaced from my latest attempt at literary brilliance and really looked at my son.

“Stop!” I ordered and corralled him between the open doors of our side-by-side fridge – yes they were both open to better peruse the meager contents. “What’s wrong with your hair?”

Up close I realized it was spiky. Not spiky-cool, but spiky-hedgehog. And it was then that I heard the words that changed my life:

“Mom, maybe my hair is naturally stiff.”

Why not? Who says a kid’s hair couldn’t have grown into quills during the night? To kids, the world is fluid, and one explanation might as well be as good as another. I realized then, that I was in the presence of inspirational genius. And every kid I’ve really listened to since has been a genius, too.

To prove my point, here are some recent exchanges at our house:

Question: Where did all the socks go?

Answer: It’s getting cold.

And then the kids rolled their eyes and explained things to their poor, dimwitted mother. Obviously the dust bunnies under the bed had collected all the socks to use for sleeping bags during the winter. Duh.

Question: Who moved my (you name it, I can’t find it)?

Answer: Usually a shrug, or a loud ‘It wasn’t me!’ But one day someone announced that there must a randomly appearing (very small) black hole in our house that picks stuff up and spits it out elsewhere. Well, that explains it all, really, doesn’t it?

In the conversations of kids I’ve found a fountain of creative youth, a never ending supply of oddities and quirks for inspiration in my writing. And though the neighbors might not quite understand us when they come to visit, I hope my kids never grow out of it. And I hope I can, just a little, grow back into it.

Maybe, just maybe, someday in my writing I’ll reach the heights of yesterday’s dinner exchange:

“Do birds burp?”

There was general agreement that they must.

“What does it sound like?”

And the answer to that must be left up to your imagination, because, I dare say, it’s fairly impossible to put into words the noises that accompanied our dinner.

Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

~ Susan

writer of MG, YA, and frequent gibberish

Current Novel: MOTHER OF PEARL

-- Deception- It's what Dyln does best, and the only weapon he has left.


  1. Nice Post, Susan.

    Sounds like you have a really fun and inspiring household.

  2. My kids are the same way. My son will have a stack of clean clothes sitting in a laundry basket, yet will put on the ketchup stained shirt and pants he wore the day before.
    I'm so lost in story land, that I don't actually look at him until we've pulled up to the school.
    That child.
    If only he wasn't raised by such a creative mother.

  3. I love the way kids blend the mundane and the fantastic into one big patchwork reality. Dinner at your house sounds like a lot of fun :)

  4. Oh, don't feel bad...I just realized a couple of days ago my sons had been calling rinsing their heads with water "washing their hair." You could literally run your fingers through their hair and it'd stand up like it was gelled. Gross. I have 4 kids so it's easy to let those little details slip through the cracks, once they're old enough to bathe themselves...Sigh.

    My kids give me tons of inspiration. Check my blog out if you like, the post about superglue. You might get a good laugh. They also teach me a lot, about myself and the world in general. Kids are cool like that.

    Thanks for the great post, I'll be following!

  5. You know, I'm an ornithologist, and I can't say for sure whether or not birds burp.

    I don't even know how I can call myself a professional. ::shakes head::

  6. Thanks for the comments everyone.

    And welcome, Jessie. Your experience is exactly what happened to me! Also, I checked out your blog - very cool!

  7. Thank you, Susan! I appreciate the look!


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