Panic set in.
It wasn't because I was worried he wouldn't like it, or that the story wasn't good. Nothing so logical. I started to panic, because I allow my characters to do things I would never let my children do.
On Friday, Melanie wrote this awesome post on how we aren't our character's parents, and how as authors, we need to stop coddling them. It's brilliant, and definitely worth reading.
|Mom let them do what?|
Does writing about that make me a bad mom?
When my kids are teenagers, and get busted for staying out past curfew, will they say, "but you let your characters do it?" Will my daughter flirt and kiss cute boys, just the same way Larissa does in Funny Tragic, Crazy Magic?
As a mom, I try to show my children the example I want them to follow. I try to practice what I preach. I want to let them know what I think is right or wrong, and I expect them to live by the rules my husband and I set.
But I remember being a teenager. I remember the heartache, and the confusion. I remember what happened in the halls of my Junior High. I remember making bad decisions, and I remember the consequences. The idea floating in my head of what my perfect children will be like when they are teenagers forgets all that. My children won't know anyone who does drugs. My perfect children won't feel heartbreak, or be in car accidents, or swear, or be involved with any of the vices I regularly and happily inflict on my characters.
I don't write for teenagers because I want them to know what they should be doing, or what good kids do when confronted with evil. I don't write morality plays, or EFY firesides. I write for teenagers because I want to help them know they aren't alone. I write for teenagers, because I remember what it is like to be a teenager, and those are the stories that infect my brain, and force my fingers to dance across a keyboard.
It's a hard road, trying to figure out the line between accepting our children for the perfectly imperfect creatures that they are, and expecting our children to be good, to be kind, and make good decisions. My oldest is seven, and I'm already panicking about it. What do you do? Do you let them be real, or do you try to teach them to be better? Is there any way we can do both?
Can we set firm limits and expectations while allowing our children the privilege of knowing that WE as parents aren't perfect? Do we have to pretend to be something we are not, in order to force our children to be something that doesn't exist? Is that really what being a good parent is all about?
I try to write about real people. Maybe I need to allow my children to be real as well.
And maybe, I need to allow my children to see that I'm real as well.
Why does that concept make me panic?