subtitled, why my children swear… and why I’m not going to stop…
Ender: Mom? You know what the difference between you and me is? You swear at people. I just swear for fun.
Go ahead. No, please, go ahead, indulge the judge within. There are so many things WRONG with that statement, I don’t even know where to start.
It’s only partially true.
I don’t really swear AT people. More at the THINGS they do.
More often yet: at my self. My brain. The things it refuses to do when I really need it to perform…
Still. I hereby resolve to swear less. In front of the sponge-like four-year-old, anyway.
I have this deeply insightful point to make and I’m just trying to find the right way to lead up to it, and then…
Flora: Mom? Do we have any of that delicious bean mush left?
Jane: What? That? Yeah?
Flora: Can I have that for breakfast?
Yes, of course, but I have to help her heat it up—because it’s been left overnight in the pan and so requires some, um, resuscitation shall we say—and then, ok, a tortilla or two to go with it, and then by the time I come back to the laptop, I can’t remember where I was going, what I was thinking…
Yeah, gone. Forever. Here. Read this instead:
Jane: Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, why is this piece so fucking bad? It’s easy. It’s simple. A goddamn chimpanzee at a typewriter could write it, so why… Jeezus—Keerist, why. Am. I. So. Fucking. Brain. Dead. Today? … hey, Cinder? I’m going to walk over to Vendome to get a coffee with whipped cream in it and clear my head, wanna come with?
Cinder: That depends. Are you going to talk to yourself and make weird hand gestures and roll your eyes and stop suddenly and shout, “YES!” or “Fuck, no, that won’t work,” because you’re stuck on that story?
Jane: Um… maybe…
Cinder: Then no. But can you bring back some of that good focaccia bread? And don’t eat it all on the way home!
OK, this stopping swearing in front of my children thing probably isn’t going to happen.
And also: seriously, a goddamn chimpanzee with a typewriter could have written it better than I had in that first draft form. Your writing tip for the day, boys and girls: an amateur despairs and gives up. A professional despairs, goes for a walk, downs a triple mocha, and redrafts.
The thing is, though, I’m feeling kind of lonely and really do want company.
Jane: Flora? Wanna go to Vendome with me?
Flora: Are you going to talk to me as we walk, or ignore me and just mumble to yourself and do that creepy thing with your eyes?
Jane: Um. I don’t know. Maybe?
Flora: Can I make a video of you and put it on Youtube?
Flora: Can I make a video of you and show it to all my friends?
Jane: Why do you hate me?
Flora: We don’t hate you, Mom. We just like to mock you.
Awesome. I go for my walk alone.
I redraft. It still sucks. Woe is I. Or rather, woe is my editor, who will have to fix it.
Point: “Filed.” I’ve told you before, have I not? An amateur thinks it has to be good. A professional knows it just has to be done.
This is the moment where I try to adapt the good/done, amateur/professional metaphor to parenting. It’s rather torturous, but it goes like this. The amateur/theoretical parent—i.e., your childless friend who is so full of theory and advice and knows exactly how he will raise his kids or even any first-time, first-year mom at that stage of the journey (do you remember that stage? I find it’s fading for me, too fast, thank goodness I write so I have proof of how insufferably arrogant and “right” I was)—thinks it has to be perfect. That it can be perfect. The professional parent—that is, anyone who’s done it in the real world for more than a year—knows it just has to… be. It just… is.
It gets done, every day.