Every child comes pre-fitted with the greatest playthings of all, their limitless imagination and curiosity. These need no batteries, no instruction books, and no pre-planned tie-in merchandising structures to stimulate further interest.
An empty box, tin or carton is a new toy every day. Just add a toddler.
I have rewritten quite a few stories and nursery rhymes for Little P at this stage. She got a collection of classic fairy tales as a present (not necessarily my choice!) and she was very taken with the pictures. So, in my version Little Red Riding Hood gives the wolf some berries she collected in the wood so he won’t be hungry anymore. In the Three Little Pigs they have a party with the wolf in the house of bricks. And in the Billy Goats Gruff the troll guides all the goats to the field with the sweetest grass!
It’s not just classics I feel the need to censor. In my version of The Gruffalo the mouse is delighted to finally see him and brings the Gruffalo through the forest to make friends with fox etc. (sorry Julia Donaldson). My family think I’m crazy. ‘But it’s just a story’ they say. ‘It’s only make believe’ they object. But I think that young children learn about the world through their play and make believe. So if they are constantly fed stories filled with conflict, aggression, fear and violence won’t they start to believe that this is the norm? Back in the 1800s when Grimm and their contemporaries were writing children’s stories the world was a very dangerous place for small children. If they wandered outside their village they literally could have been eaten. Stories like these were written as warnings to try and prevent children from straying too far from home. Of course the world is still a very dangerous place full of conflict, aggression and violence. But I for one don’t want my daughter to believe that this is the norm. She will learn in time that people do bad things but this is the exception rather than the rule. And surely we have better ways of protecting children now rather than scaring the living daylights out of them!
I want Little P to see a world of opportunity, adventure, excitement, humanity and fun. But funny stories about big bad wolves and owl ice cream are fun for children I hear you cry! Or maybe they’re are just the things that WE think children will find fun because they are the kind of stories that may have been read to us as children. The truth is that children find fun and laughter where they see us finding fun and laughter. So a story about funny words, a topsy turvy world or messy stuff is fun. Violence is just not needed. It’s a hangover from the ancient childrens ‘classics’ and time to leave it behind now. Much better to read our children tales of endeavour, co-operation, adventure and kindness. These are the stories that will develop them into an inspiring generation.
I started thinking about blogging about six months ago. I wanted to practise my writing skills and reading so many great blogs meant I wanted to join in the conversation! I was aware that it would take a lot of work and commitment but had loads of ideas for content so no worries there. But what I didn’t anticipate was something I like to call ‘Blogger’s Freeze’.
Writer’s and Blogger’s block are obviously well known concepts as both writers and bloggers are simply often unable to write. But for me the problem isn’t writing it’s publishing. Blogging is unlike any other form of writing as there’s no other stage between writing the content and publishing that content. Most other articles, stories, books, essays etc will go through an editing stage where their work is critically appraised and changed. Maybe a little or maybe a lot. But with a blogpost the whole process usually begins and ends with the blogger. I do occasionally ask my other half for a second opinion but he has enough of his own work to do and is often not here when I’m writing. So, I find myself writing posts, reading, rewriting and when the post is finished and ready to publish I freeze! What if it’s too personal? What if it’s not personal enough? Maybe it’s badly written or nobody will ‘get’ what I’m trying to say. Maybe it’s just dull? So, I hover over the publish button with my mouse and agonise and procrastinate. I’ve probably only published half of what I have actually written.
It could be because I have read so many great blogs and I’m subconsciously comparing my work or maybe it’s just that I have never worked alone before and learnt to trust my own instincts. Either way I have to learn to embrace my creative autonomy rather than allowing it to paralyse me. I have to get over my ‘Blogger’s Freeze’ because if I don’t publish then I’m not exactly a blogger. Just a crazy woman with loads of random word documents saved on her laptop!
I’d love to hear if any more experienced bloggers have had this problem and if so how did you overcome it? Let me know in the comments.
Excitement is building here for the Rose of Tralee festival which is almost upon us and for me that always signals the end of the summer. The holiday houses will soon close up and families will return home to their regular routines of work, school and college. This time of the year is bittersweet for me now. I will enjoy the quiet beaches and playgrounds once the crowds have gone. I like September it always feels full of possibility and fills me with the thrill of expectation. As a child I loved school and always looked forward to returning after the summer holidays. I used to get so excited about my new school books and uniform! It was an exciting and busy time when I worked in television but I do feel a sense of relief that I’m not there anymore. How I mourn the passing of summer though…
The summer here is wild and chaotic. The weather swings between Atlantic summer storms and glorious hazy sunshine. The beaches are dotted with happy screeching children, crazy dogs, dedicated swimmers and sun worshippers. Any coastal town or village all across the world buzzes with activity as soon as summer comes around. And I suppose they all enjoy the benefits and suffer the disadvantages in equal measure. Holiday makers can bring noise and litter, they can be careless in places that are not home. There were some frustrating stories in the news recently about dumping in beauty spots in Sneem and on the Conor Pass. But tourists can also bring money, activity, vibrancy and a lifeline to many small seaside places. There are businesses here that will shut up shop once August ends. It is only the steady stream of tourists that the summer months supply that keep them open.
‘Little P’ will miss all the extra children, the boats, the fishermen and the festivals. But September will bring a whole new set of adventures. There’ll be blackberry picking, jam making, collecting conkers and jumping into piles of crunchy brown leaves. I want to squeeze all the enjoyment out of these Autumns with her because I know how quickly time is passing and soon Septembers will mean school.
I’m learning how the seasons change life here. I’m also finding out what each season has to offer and I find myself anticipating each one with delight. For the seasons are about nature and weather and there is no better place to experience both. The Wild Atlantic Way has something to offer all year round and I can see that others appreciate that too. If we all do our bit to preserve our landscape and our government invest wisely in it then maybe those small business won’t have to close their doors in Autumn after all.