Saturday, September 12, 2009

They're Baaack....

My kids all fell asleep in the living room last night in a big heap of end-of-the-summer-exhaustion. The boys have to be out the door at 7 am which, after long afternoons of summer slumber, is like the middle of the night to them.

Emma has to take "orders" from people who "are only taller, not any smarter" than kids. (Yes, that's how she put it)

I actually got almost, not quite, but almost caught up with the wash and I had all my papers in order when I got to campus. I even had on matching clothes and earrings. I hope my students don't get too used to that.

And I'm starting a new novel. I keep saying that, but I keep changing the way it opens. I think the problem was the voice just didn't sound authentic to me. I put books in the heap after about three pages if the voice doesn't hook me. Kids do, too.

That being said, here is a sampling of real voices from my kids on the first day of school. Voice really is character.

When I asked Christopher, he said, "Mom, everything is all good." He pushed the rest of his sandwich into his mouth so he couldn't say anymore then high tailed it to his room.

Philip reminded me, "He knows if he tells you too much, you'll call the school or something." When I asked Philip which of his teachers he liked, he smirked and said, "Mom, no one likes teachers. They're not likeable; they're just all control freaks.You tolerate teachers; you don't like them."

Right. I forgot.

Emma had the most descriptive assessment of the first couple of days. Her "friend" L. got a new haircut so now she looks like a "fuzzy pumpkin." I put friend in quotes because L. is one of those people we talk to, but never truly befriend. I should say that L. sees ghosts, carries tarot cards, and could use a little help in the hygiene department. She came over once, and Emma decided she needed to remain a school friend.

Anyway, L. informed Emma that the bathroom in their classroom was haunted. Not only did several ghosts inhabit it, but the janitor is somehow involved in maintaining the ghosts' secrecy. (I felt a little guilty when she was explaining all this; I couldn't help but see the huge difference in the YA mind and the MG mind)

All day, Emma and L. listened to toilets flush when no one was in there, lights blinked, faucets ran and there is a low creaking sound which is, of course, how the ghosts speak to one another.

"Could it be the water running in the pipes?" I asked, "the school is pretty old."

"It's not water," she explained (barely hiding the exasperation in her voice), "water sounds wet. This is more like wind."

"So how is everything else?"

"I almost fell asleep during history. What's the point in learning about the colonies? Aren't all those people dead?"

"Maybe they're the ghosts," I suggested.

She looked at me for a second. "No, I don't think so. That would be interesting. And there's nothing interesting about school."

So much for the first three days...


Elizabeth Bradley said...

L. sounds like an interesting character. My youngest son (he's 19 now) was so stoic in high school. After I'd pick him up in the afternoon, I'd question him about his day and he was so...let's just say unresponsive. Right down to when I asked him what he ate for lunch & he would grunt & answer, FOOD. Sheesh, kids.

K.C. Shaw said...

Poor history teachers! If there were more ghosts, maybe history would be more interesting. (Although isn't the history of magic professor in Harry Potter a ghost? And his class is painfully dull?) I ended up minoring in history in college, but I hated it in middle/high school. We seemed to go over and over and over the colonies and Revolutionary War. I was much more interested in 20th century history, and I don't think any of my classes ever made it that far.

Anne Spollen said...

I don't know why teenage boys don't speak, but he stopped around the end of eighth grade. Not to other people, but to me. Occasionally, he tells me stuff lately, so maybe he'll talk to me again one day. Yes, I've received the food answer. And, "What did you learn in English today?" Stuff. Stuff only you would like...

I wish history were more interesting for them, K.C. In fact, Emma pointed out that they did the colonies in third, fourth and fifth grades. Even the class trips are all centered around the colonists and the Revolutionary War. Plus, her history teacher gives a ton of hw that is straight from the book with lots of maps. I can see why they're listening for ghosts.

adrienne said...

Emma has a point about people not getting smarter as they grow up. We gain more knowledge, maybe...

We seem to be transitioning between MG and YA voices in my house. I'm already getting more shrugs and grunts from my son, but I can still eek out some information - we'll see how long that lasts.

storyqueen said...

I love this post! I love the voices of real kids.

And you are right. I often start a piece over and over again to get the voice right in the first few pages. If the voice isn't right, it's really hard to continue the writing.

Good Luck to you!


Christy Raedeke said...

Love the "school friend" vs. "real friend" distinction. Fuzzy Pumpkin sounds like a fascinating character. I still remember kids like that from my own middle/high school years. In a strange way, kids who are into astrology, dreams, ghosts, and/or oracles like runes or tarot seem to wield a strange amount of power no matter how unpopular they are. Must be the pull of the Dark Arts....

Anne Spollen said...

Adrienne, you get good at stalking and eavesdropping. My boys think I'm psychic -- I could work for the CIA at this point.

Yes, Shelley, real kids voices are the best. If they don't sound authentic, kids know it right away.

I think, Christy, that L. would be a whole lot more popular if she showered more. But Emma absolutely loves talking to her since she knows so much about witches, spells, tarot -- maybe after the showering kicks in, she'll become more than a school friend only.

Glynis said...

LOL my son in law called his vows...Stuff. His mother grinned and said, that is what he did in school. I laughed and said my boy did stuff too!
You sound very busy, I hope your jewels always match and you continue to impress your students! LOL