22 May 2007


Sometimes, when you're a writer, your brain kicks into creative mode and there's nothing you can do about it. You're not always in a position where you can type like the wind or even take notes. Let's take my daughter's recent preschool graduation as an example. Those of you who are writers are going to know exactly what I'm talking about, and those of you who aren't can get some insight as to where we get our ideas.

So we (me, husband, sister, daughter #1, daughter #2) all dressed up, loaded up and went to this thing called a preschool graduation. Really, it was a potluck dinner and a chance for the kids to run amuck on the playground in their dress clothes while the parents stood around awkwardly, holding paper plates, angry babies with rashes, and the piece of wood their kid found on the playground and just *had* to save.

Or maybe that was just me. But anyway.

We'd made my daughter's favorite piggy wiggies and put them in my precious, fancy Tempraserve insulated food carrier to keep them hot, and the buffet table groaned with goodies. We had convinced the children to eat real food instead of cake, and everything we might possibly need was packed in the diaper bag hanging on my shoulder.

Everything except my laptop!

There we were during the social hour, pretending to be social, and without warning my brain clicked into creative mode. I don’t know what kickstarted it. Maybe the sight of the children riding the skateboard down the long handicapped ramp? When I was young, there was a house in our neighborhood on the bluff that actually had an escape tunnel. The back bedroom closet had a secret door, and underneath was a long, dark, concrete shaft. If you flattened your body, you could roll on a skateboard all the way under the house, under the yard, to the secret egress near the side of the mountain. Why would a family need a dark, secret escape hatch, I always wondered? Why would they need to flee their house? Surely there was a story there, and last night, my brain wanted to write it.

"Hon," my husband said, "can you hold the baby so I can eat?"

My turn to restrain the rashy baby, who struggled to get down and eat grass with the rest of the younger siblings. My little graduate, on the other hand, was -- in her fancy party dress -- excavating a large mud puddle with a child-sized shovel, jumping on it with great concentration. So were several other taffeta-clad angels, and my sister, attempting to restore order, stood in their center like a Maypole whose ribbons had taken on a life of their own. The sun glinted on her blonde curls, and a dark, handome man I didn't recognize videotaped the whole thing, smirking the whole time.

My sister's single. Granted, the videotaper probably wasn't, but he might be, and...

"Hon," my husband said, "it's time for the ceremony."

We all trooped inside the small schoolhouse to watch our muddy graduates collect their "journey books" and sing songs about spreading love around the world, very Pay It Forward. The preschool where we enrolled our daughter follows the Reggio Emilia approach that curriculum is developed from the emerging interests of the children as they interact with their environment. In other words, it's small, intimate, nontraditional and touchy-feely, a unique program for our wonderful--perhaps even unusual--children. Which of course sent my brain, which had been writing a romantic comedy involving my sister, in another direction.

"Hon," my husband said, waking me from "the trance" for a third time, "do you want me to take the baby to the car?"

Now how had I missed that it was time to go home? I sent hubby to the car, my sister to clean the mud off our graduate and then to the car, and myself to the buffet table to fetch my precious, fancy Tempraserve insulated food carrier and any remaining piggy wiggies.

It was nowhere to be found. I sought it high and low, inside and out, even in the mudhole, but the Tempraserve had disappeared into thin air. There were other dishes still on the table, dishes I had not brought, but none were my treasured Tempraserve. I managed to keep my mouth shut about shabby thieves all the way home since the children love to repeat my words. I knew it could have been an honest mistake, some clueless husband sent by the wife to "get our stuff", but now it's late and I'm writing my blog entry and I'm still pissed about that casserole dish.

Maybe I should have my revenge. Which makes me think of a story....


Anybody else have nights like this?

Jody W.
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