One of the things I hear the most on about The Other Man is usually about the kids. They not only lighten up the story a bit, but I’m pleased that so many people feel that they’re not only well-written, but true to form, too.
Writing kids isn’t always easy. There are so many ways to go off too much one way or another, but I love writing them. Maybe it’s because I was a bit of a lunatic mutant (or a model citizen, depending on which parent you ask, heh), myself, but I feel like it’s really freeing to re-visit that part of my life and write kids as, well, kids.
In the interest of self-preservation, I will not tell too much on my sibling other than to say that some of the events that happen in the dinner scene may have been tested out in real life by one or the other of us at some point. Way before I knew I absolutely had to write or else the ideas would eat me in my sleep, I learned to pay attention to the little moments that were just so full of awesome that I didn’t want to forget them. A lot of those happened at dinner and were so left-field, they were priceless.
To be fair, a lot of those incidents were me. I was known for gunning it through the prayer as if my life depended on how fast I could blurt out a phrase (Probably even more so when I figured out how much it irritated my own father. Don’t ask me why I thought that was a good idea or hilarious, but I did. And I still might on occasion…). I made up little songs a lot as a kid (there’s the infamous story about how I memorized commercial jingles and had the talent for singing the exact wrong one at whatever restaurant we were at). And although my parents have no memory of this, I definitely pulled the Mrs. Lederhosen trick in the story. I didn’t call myself that, but at one point I thought it was the most brilliant of brilliant ideas. I don’t recall being sent to my room too much before my pre-teens (or if I was, I didn’t realize it was a punishment and just went and played with my toys), but I did have moments where it irked me to be separated away from everything that was going on. I got it into my head that the way around this was to put on all my dress up clothes at once, waltz back out into the living room, and pretend that I was this woman who had somehow been shut up in my room by mistake. I have no idea why I thought that made sense – I didn’t even think up any cool details like inter-dimensional portals or anything (granted, I was like four). For some reason I thought this was brilliant and that not only would my parents never catch on, but they’d gladly let some random woman who’d just crawled out of their daughter’s closet plunk down in the middle of their living room and play with her toys.
It really put me out that this never worked, and now that I’m older I can only roll my eyes at my past self. Ever proof that I was imaginative from day one. Always one to buck the trend of the parenting manuals, that was me!
I suppose my point is that kids are mutants. They’re awesome mutants and I’m glad they’re mutants. They’re so uninhibited that it’s just awesome to see what they come up with. Their minds work hard, y’know? I’m not saying they shouldn’t behave, but I find it sad that so many people struggle to wipe out that kind of zany creativity. They’re people, and it’s important to let them sort of figure things out (within reason. Always within reason. Safety is important and so is behaving like an active member of society. I’m not advocating letting people be feral or raising them to be some sort of malevolent creepy recluse that shoots a cannon at their neighbors or something). I’ll admit that I enjoy writing that type of kid: the explorer, the one that’s somewhat of a rebel, the creative spirit, the one who doesn’t quite understand why the rules are the way they are. Not a bad type, but a little off the cuff, to be sure.
Not that I know what that’s like at all…