Showing Your Kids What Work Is

Kids at a tableThe hardest thing about writing as a job is that it looks the same as Facebooking, emailing, surfing, and reading. To a child, at least. Of course, it would help if I didn’t get caught turning “I’ll get you another bedtime water” into 15 minutes at the computer socializing.

Guilt aside, though, it’s much harder to show children what you’re doing as a writer, especially when they can’t read proficiently yet. More difficult is when the subject matter means nothing to them. I imagine that visual artists inspire awe in their children, because a child doesn’t need an interpreter to make out the art: they’re more than happy to interpret it themselves.

When I received my copy of just dance! magazine in the mail with my article on The Next Step in it, I could finally show my older son what I actually do. The two-page spread of the cast, a collection of smiling faces, appealed to him right away. He quietly scanned everything. I showed him the next part of the article, which had more text but still had graphics, and I could tell it clicked.

“This is what Mommy does. You see? I wrote all of that.”

Of course, I only got an “oh” as a response, but that meant he was throughly engrossed, even if for a moment. (The article didn’t have any pictures of trains.)

I’ll need to find ways of showing him more often what I do – it’s a lesson I think he’ll need to hear again and again, simply because the act of writing is so abstract to him. His world is full of single sentences that take five to ten minutes to write and beginner readers that still push his endurance. Now, if I can just teach him to cook, then I can write even more…

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