This morning my son asked me, “Mom, why do you have wrinkles?” and instead of flipping out like my mother would have done, I just said, “Skin gets wrinkly as you get older.”
This is the same child who says, “My face is always changing. I look different now than when I was a baby and when I’m a big kid, my face will look different too.”
“My face will get wrinkles when I’m old too,” he says this morning.
And I say, “Yup.”
And he nods, accepting that as a reality.
I guess that’s how I’m teaching my children not to fear aging?
I have looked younger than I am for most of my life. I’m a tiny lady and frequently mistaken for and/or treated as a child even by people who know better. I have never really heard “you look so much younger than that” in a way that wasn’t condescending in some way. I’m pretty tired of it.
So freaking bring it on, man. I will take the wrinkles and the gray hair and the no f*cks to give attitude. I will join the whatever-color-hat society and wear head-to-toe purple. I will fear no stereotype as I yell at the neighbor’s kids to get off my lawn and I will laugh at my fitness instructor when he asks me to do something only 22-year-old television stunt doubles actually need to know how to do and sit that one out, thanks.
I am 100% OK with looking older or seeming older or acting older or being mistaken for older.
Getting older is another story. Everything freaking hurts and I keep hearing all this stuff about perimenopause on the horizon and I gotta tell ya: It Does NOT Sound Like a Good Time.
So who cares about wrinkles. Honestly.
I am STRUGGLING to finish the WIP I started for NaNoWriM0 2017 and I’m for real getting close to scrapping it altogether. I just don’t care. I don’t care what happens to this character and my mind is on this other story I’ve been itching to write.
But I have that, “If I start something new before finishing this one then I’ll never finish this one and whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.”
So I had a good chat with myself. Self, I said, who cares? And my self said, “Not me.” And I said, then stop stressing out about this story that no one cares about and write something that makes you want to write.
And my self said, “Yeah. Ok. That sounds good.”
Every mom wants to think their kid is the smartest but I’m here to tell you that my kid is the best and I’m not hearing otherwise.
Because last night, my son and I did a Star Wars/MacGyver crossover for story time before bed and it was goddamn brilliant.
It’s edutainment because … STEM
Other crossovers he’s explored:
Star Wars/Goldy and Bear: Goldy and Bear discover a portal in Fairytale Forest that leads to the forest moon of Endor. They become friends with the Ewoks and help them take down the Empire.
Star Wars/Harry Potter: Darth Vader and Voldemort in a struggle for ultimate badguy status but find out they actually have a lot in common and become best friends.
Star Wars/LEGO Batman/Doc McStuffins: Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, a stormtrooper and LEGO Batman plushies come to life with Doc’s magic stethoscope and help my son track down his missing baby sister. LEGO Batman is usually the hero (we’ve done this story many times with several variations) because he can crawl into small spaces where baby sisters hide.
And those are just the ones I’m part of. There’s a whole other comic book character/Star Wars/random ImagineNext character thing going on in my livingroom and I have no idea what that story is about.
My kid is amazing. May his storytelling skills only improve with time.
I spent some time today watching TV instead of filling my day with chores that never end and projects that no one cares about but me and got a fun-filled lesson on character development from one of my favorite shows, The Magicians (on syfy):
When you file people away as sidekicks you don’t realize their importance to the story, and this story belongs to a lot more people than you think. Where to shelve a book, it’s not a little thing. You’re telling the world what to value. Who to value. You get our responsibility here?
Awwwww shit, that’s how I solve the problem in one of my new WIPs of having the best friend/side kick dilemma. I have a perfectly good character that listens and gives great advice, and then disappears into the woodwork only to pop out again when the main character needs her? No. No, I will not Judy Greer this character.
And by the way, Judy Greer deserves better.
(Oh my God, she wrote a book about it! Go Judy! You go!)
I need to value my side character like casting directors need to value Judy. I need to shelve that book somewhere important.
Thanks Penny! Way to embrace your character arc and grow as a person!
From the manuscript I’m currently editing, I think I’ve established a thematic pattern:
I know you’re supposed to respect them and honor them and everything. And you have to appreciate what they do because, I mean, they brought you into the world and clothed you and fed you and brought you to school and Science Camp and everything, right? But does that mean you can’t… like, see them for who they are? Like see their flaws and think, ‘maybe I don’t want to be like that.’?”
I cracked the saddest smile. I knew exactly what she meant. I knew how heartbreaking it is to love someone unconditionally when you’re fully aware of the conditions they’ve put in place to continue loving you. “I think…” I started. I wanted to say it right this time. “Your parents are probably the hardest people to see clearly because you want so badly to love them and be loved by them. But they’re not perfect. They’re just people, like anyone else. And sometimes, they screw up. I think it’s still possible to love someone and still see their flaws. I think it’s probably a good thing because it gives you a way to … to like, maybe not repeat their mistakes or patterns or whatever. Does that make sense?”
It’s also in…
Like Two Opposite Things when Heather is talking about her otherwise perfect-seeming mom who gossips to the point of ruining friendships and how she’d rather use the info she gathers to help people instead.
Lay Her Ghosts to Rest where Catori is recognizing that the culture her workplace has established nurtures terrible habits out of efficiency, effectively causing the employee burnout it purports to resolve.
And in a more personal memoir I’m having trouble finishing because it’s so much about breaking old unhelpful patterns for the sake of my own mental health and the healthy parenting of my children.
Ahh, writing is the best therapy. Besides… therapy.
Shout out to Dr. Jonice Webb and her book Running on Empty for helping me figure these things out!