The Innocence of Children

287526_sI caught this story on cable news Wednesday morning and, I don’t know, I right away thought it the most adorable thing I’d seen in a really long time. Since it does involve a youngster, I don’t know how many of you will stick around to read on, except maybe a Triberr acquaintance, Bruce Sallan, Dad Chat blogger on Triberr. In any event, country church, or Vatican City, children will definitely be children. I must say, this is such befitting behavior for a little one, and he appears no older than four. Regardless, as a mother it stole my heart. It appears this little guy, we don’t know how, wandered on a stage with the Pope as he gave a speech in Vatican City. And, in the middle of around 150,000 people who were in attendance.

What do you do with these inquisitive children? Nothing. You have to allow them to express themselves and explore. Although, in such a large crowd I can’t imagine what distracted Mom that she didn’t notice him dashing off. But, right at the podium he stood, and strolled, and swung his arms – touching everything he could. When the aides tried to take him away he reached for the Pontiff’s legs, as though for protection, until they simply decided to let him have his way. I loved watching the face of His Holiness when a smile appeared once he realized the child would not surrender to authority. Through all of the goings on I’m envisioning a mother with her head in her hands, because now she can’t bear the sight. Hey, she may had even slipped deeper in to the crowd and left her son in the care of whomever came with her.

My mother used to tell a story that always made me blush. Here is a three-year old at the regular Sunday morning service. Just like any other squirming three-year old, I’d break free from her death grip, and off I’d go; straight to the pulpit. She said, I’d walk around behind the minister, swing my arms, climb in the Pastor’s chair, then turn around and swing my legs, sing, and attempt to get in the choir box. You see, that’s where Grandma sat. What’s worse, every time she’d attempt to gather me up, Pastor would exclaim, “Mary Louise, just leave her alone,” and right in the middle of the service. So there you go. I do, however, remember my own daughter wanting to bolt down the aisle on a Sunday morning but, maybe I had more strength than my mother. Actually, I do believe, my daughter relinquished to discipline better than yours truly.

What a story this made that it turned up on more than one news station. Although, I’m certain we had a mortified mother, through that frustration she will, I’m sure, tell this story for many years to come, even to the grandchildren of her determined son. Funny thing though, if he is indeed under five years old, his mother can tell him of this occurrence until her face bleeds, he simply won’t remember. I also believe Pontiff will tell this tale for quite some time, especially since I’m sure it is a first. Imagine your own son or daughter catapulting you in to this situation, and we’re not talking the country church around the corner. Although bad enough, this venue involved Vatican City – the Pope; known around the world. But, after all of this, I do believe mother will have this claim to fame, “My son does nothing little. When he goes for something he heads right to the top.”

Image courtesy of 123rf.com

NBC News

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Ants In Your Pants

iStock_000007904791_ExtraSmallIsn’t it funny how, if you are a writer, thinking about things always prompts some kind of rendering; novel, short story, poem or in this case a blog post. I guess I had ants on my mind as I sat with hands folded, avoiding my chores. It could have also been because of the onslaught of ant attacks on my desk at work, lately. But, these thoughts all went to how these creatures are always busy working – preparing for whatever. That, of course, took me right to my five-year old daughter who, back in the day, had a run in with these hard-working little bodies. As life has a habit of doing, we needed some serious R & R, and decided to take a jaunt to the tropics. Since my mother, like all other grandmothers believed the sun rose and set in her only granddaughter, she jumped at the chance to take care of her for the week. Late spring worked out better for our wallets, and allowed my daughter to spend lots of time outside playing with the other neighborhood children. Thinking back I realize time really does fly. Anyway, we dropped the little girl, visited with my mother for the evening, and the next morning we were off to Kennedy airport for our flight.

I checked in from time to time during the week, and closer to the end of that time she informed me she had some funny news to report when we returned.  First, let me explain my daughter. She has always been, and is still petrified of anything that flies or crawls. But, no one knew until this particular incident that she held homage for one group of insects.

On a bright, and sunny day, my daughter spent most of mid-day in the front yard, and on the porch with the other children – playing in the dirt. Sometime in the early afternoon a family friend stopped by and asked my mother if she wanted to take a ride with him to Brooklyn. My mother let a couple of the other mothers know she would take the children with her, gathered them all up, including my daughter, and ushered them in to the back of the car.

Now, as she’s telling me the story, I interrupted, and asked, “In her dirty clothes?”

“Sure,” she replied. “We were just riding there and back. We weren’t getting out of the car. So, halfway there, I could tell Jim was watching the children in the rear view mirror. And, Erica is fidgeting more than the others. But, we kept talking, and yes, she kept squirming. He finally laughed, and jokingly said to Erica in the mirror, ‘What’s the matter with you? You have ants in your pants or something?’ Then, we all just laughed it off.”

As they returned to the house, everyone crawled out of the car. My mother took Erica in the house, and asked, “Come over here, do you have something in your pants? What’s the matter?”

Needless to say – yes, she did have a problem. Only a truck load of ants; crawling up and down the inside of her pants, on her skin, in her underwear; everywhere on the bottom portion of her body. She had evidently sat on an ant hill or picked them up from somewhere in the yard. My mother, clearly disgusted, rushed her outside where the pants stayed, and from there this child hit the tub for a thorough scrubbing.

In asking her why she didn’t say anything, she simply replied, “Nana, they’re just ants.”

Go, try to figure children, and especially one who while terrified of everything else in the insect world – wouldn’t lift a finger to harm one of these little guys. So many years later, and we still have to laugh about that.

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

Children’s Books-No Picnic

Why would anyone want to write a children’s book when it’s the most difficult category in which to obtain a publishing, anything. Believe me, I know this first hand. But, what is moving deep within a person that pushes them on, regardless of the odds? Now, we’ve established that it’s difficult to stir a publisher’s curiosity. But, with a driving force the story lines continue to bubble, because of the love for this particular type. The affection for it makes developing the tale so easy to create. However, through it all, I’m left wondering what fashions the desire, since this genre is so opposite to any other. Maybe it’s a combination of a host of reasons beginning with the writer being a child in his/her own right; young at heart, so to speak. Or just that the end result will be a happy fable, all wrapped up with the fact the author loves children.

I think back to my childhood – I read everyday, every week. I would make my way to the school library once every three or four days, and load my arms with as many books as my little skinny arms could carry. Then, instead of socializing, I’d immediately crack one of those covers, and allow the author’s blood and tears to take me to the land created between those hard covers. I recall on many occasions even having difficulty lifting my head to walk. Could those writers have influenced me to want to develop my space in time – leaving me with a desire to recreate a loved childhood, lost to the years?

Maybe the writer enjoys recalling the time playing outside? As for me I never wanted to go in the house. I always wanted daylight, which meant I could stay out forever. Perhaps a special childhood friendship is the motive, and recreating that alliance on paper will hold those memories close to the heart. Because we know we grow up so fast, and when you reach a certain age, one realizes how fast the years have gone by – didn’t I have my twelfth birthday two years ago? Therefore, why not preserve those precious moments. Watching youngsters play; listening to their heartfelt laughter, and understanding how simple life is then – the way they roll around in the grass, jump rope or play hopscotch without being ridiculed. Does the writer still have these desires, admitting to themselves it really did end too soon, and they weren’t done being a child?

As for me I undoubtedly needed more time. I loved laying in the grass, climbing trees, and riding my bike. Which again states, for me, it may be about reconstructing a bygone era; a time when no worries abound, and summer spelled staying outside until the lightning bugs appeared. Then, chasing and catching them until a parent’s voice summoned. After all of this, I’m still wondering, and asking what drove the greats, George Washington Carver, C.S. Lewis, and Beatrix Potter – how can I possibly hope to be such a writer? Did they also have a longing to return to their childhood? What makes one want to contribute to the young mind? Is it an attempt to be part of a child’s development; bestowing the same morals as were instilled in us by our parents or a combination of the two? Too many questions, too few answers. All I know is that writing children’s books is so close to my heart, and extremely fulfilling. I pass these questions on like handing off the Olympic torch – if you have a love of writing children’s books, take a minute – tell me why, and maybe your answers will resolve some of my nagging questions.

Photos courtesy of iStockPhoto

Long Road Trips

As a child I spent lots of time on the road from New York to Virginia, and from Virginia to New York; occasionally on the train, but mostly by car.  I remember Rt. 301 before I95 ever came along.  In fact, other than Rt. 1, no other direct means existed.  I also recall that dreaded William Preston Lane, Jr. Memorial (Bay) Bridge through Maryland, which by the way, has changed its appearance completely from the old days.  Along with that bridge came the Verrazano-Narrows and the Goethals.  Now, depending on what direction my father chose determined which of the later two spans we took. But regardless they are still what I consider nightmares of my youth.  In my first children’s book, I decided to give the main character, Lally Summers a fear of bridges – since she is very close to my heart.

Being a child, those excursions for me had the impression of the longest road trip ever, and unlike most people, I did them without siblings.  Therefore, my parents/grandparents didn’t have to endure the “Would you stop touching me?” scenario.  Because they were long for me, I used to play games like checking out the farthest scenery.  I would stand on the hump in the middle of the floor, in back – remember those – and peer through the windshield as far ahead as possible, marking a spot.  I’d watch the highway until we got there, and then, I’d begin again.  I did this until I wore myself out.  As an adult, my husband and I have made that same journey many, many times.  Occasionally, during his turn to drive I have found myself playing that same game.  Then, I’d realize what I had been doing and, I’d chuckle at myself.

Recently, we went to Disney World from here in Virginia.  We chose to drive, because we thought it would be fun, since neither of us had explored the land anywhere south of North Carolina.  As always the adrenaline rush, due to our excitement, shortened the ride down.  Now, although we had the best time – halfway through the week we could only think of our return home.  FYI: I would say from a bit south of Washington, D.C. all the way to the Rt. 4W exit off of I95, the scenery is completely unchanging.  Therefore, do yourself a favor, and fly.  You would think that as an adult I’d have a hint the games of a six-year-old, simply helped pass the long hours.  So, what does one do as an adult?

Talk about long hours in the car, we have many friends who have driven from New York/New Jersey to Florida where they split the driving, and make it in twenty-four hours.  But, as I go back and recall my childhood game – it simply tells me, I wanted to be elsewhere.  Being cooped up in that tiny space created a world of anxiety.  Now, with all that in mind, why would that same person long for, yearn a cross-country trip?  Fourteen hours from here to Florida is one thing, but three thousand-plus miles?  Solution: Find something of interest in each state; map out so many miles per day, and lastly, set aside three months at least to do it all.  What’s the old adage – It’ll cure the itch or….  Share your extreme car outings with me.

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto

Bridge Information courtesy of Wikipedia

A Noisy Problem

The other day I read a short story of a twenty month old toddler getting lost from his father, and it reminded me of my little one (who’s not so little anymore) and how they can get out of hand at any time, no matter what.  Many years ago my two-year old daughter and myself were off to the bank.  It happened to be just another ordinary morning of errands, banking, etc.  This bank sat on the corner of a major street, and as most were back then – it rivaled the size of the local cathedral.  I mean massive, with a rotunda type ceiling that of course carried sound as though it were piped through mega-speakers.

I stepped on line with the little one, who started out find.  I amused her with a game of patty-cake and hiding our faces.  Suddenly, at the half-way point on that line – out of nowhere, she simply decided she didn’t want to be there any longer.  Now, to describe this little girl; never a peep from her.  She proved the best child, and when she did cry, you didn’t even hear a squeak, the tears simply flowed down her cheek.  Seriously, no one ever believed this child made no noise when she cried.  But, on this particular bank day – entirely different story; screaming to the top of her lungs.  So, I picked her up in an attempt to quiet her.  Of course, that didn’t work either.  In fact, the more I tried to comfort her, the more upset she became.  Imagine the inside of a building the size of the Jefferson Monument with a rotunda stone ceiling, and a screaming two-year old.

The only solution to this problem involved foregoing all other plans.  I merely had to place whatever I had in my hand, back in my handbag, gather my noisy problem in my arms and head for the hills, as quickly as I could, and without making eye contact with anyone.  Do children have some type of radar where there are only two readings, embarrassment and mortify?  I never figured out why she pulled that little stunt on that particular day, but I must say it took me some time before I could face anyone in that bank again.  Anyone out there with cute or embarrassing stories of their own?  I’d like to hear them.

Earth’s Extremes

Frozen Zanskar River/Ladakh, India

I planned this particular post some time ago when I first watched this new series on The Discovery Channel called Human Planet.  Has anyone seen it?  It is an eight part documentary that describes humans and their association with the area in which they live.  The show is phenomenal from beginning to end, including “Behind The Scenes.”  It first aired in January of this year, but each installment is run from time to time still, on that same channel.  As I watched each week, it brought up a serious question.  I don’t know if anyone has ever thought of this, but we were never given an opportunity to choose where we would be born.  Also, as far as nationality or ethnicity – no choice.  Like each of these individuals showcased in every program, that could very easily have been you, me or the neighbor across the street.  Of course, if that were the case you wouldn’t know it.

The reality is that their lives, and the conditions in which they inhabit are cruel, and extreme.  But, what is unique about all of this is, they don’t see it that way as this is all they know.  I mean, you couldn’t place the day by day person from this country in one of those environments and expect them to survive such conditions.  I think my favorite episode is called, “Not Your Everyday Commute.”  Filmed in Tibet, it presents a father taking his children to school, where they will stay for six months.  But, not just any place of learning; to get there it takes six days, and is a sixty mile trek through the Zanskar Valley – a part of that same mountain range in the Himalayas where in winter the temperatures are as severe as the landscape.  In this case, dipping low enough to create frozen rivers and ice sheets.  He drops the children off, and then, heads out again to return home.  The intensity of the regions exhibited in the series span from the heat of the African planes to this father’s journey on ice to a tribe living in trees, hundreds of feet from the jungle floor.  And, after the home is built in the trees, the smallest toddler even knows how far to journey across the floor of their new abode.

The cultures publicized here are to the end of the spectrum – otherwise they would have no program.  But, I say each lifestyle is intense enough to seriously make one take another peek at his/her own environment.  I must also say, if I didn’t watch this particular television event revealing the different surroundings, I wouldn’t know they even existed.  Now, thinking of my everyday life, I have to thank my Creator for placing me in the area He did.  Needing to be jolted out of the everyday boredom?  Take a gander at one of these productions.  It makes me think of man, needing to push himself to the limits of his existence.  I would think most of us are content with our being as we know it – there are others, however, who need to….oh, I don’t know, let’s say scale a part of the Andes or something on the other side of the spectrum like daring themselves on the scariest rollercoaster ride in the amusement park.

What separates us? What takes someone from western society to the extremes of what we have learned is another’s everyday life – pushing themselves.  But, now that we know of the other astonishing human beings, when you think of it – the westerner is only pushing himself to try to achieve something another person already does daily.  Okay, thinking of the father in Tibet, he won’t try to climb Mt. Everest, he merely lives among the Himalayan mountain range.  The son learning to steal a young eagle and teach it to hunt fox won’t try it another way just to expose his strength.  Then, what am I saying? I’m so very happy I am located in the west.  Yes, we are spoiled, but personally, this standard of living is all that I know.  If you’ve questioned the existence of a higher power in the past, once you have viewed one of this episodes, it should help you realize we weren’t just flung out here, and told to make it the best way we can.

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto

Children’s Books-No Picnic

Why would anyone want to write a children’s book when it’s the most difficult category in which to obtain a publishing, anything. Believe me, I know this first hand. But, what is moving deep within a person that pushes them on, regardless of the odds? Now, we’ve established that it’s difficult to stir a publisher’s curiosity. But, with a driving force the story lines continue to bubble, because of the love for this particular type. The affection for it makes developing the tale so easy to create. However, through it all, I’m left wondering what fashions the desire, since this genre is so opposite to any other. Maybe it’s a combination of a host of reasons beginning with the writer being a child in his/her own right; young at heart, so to speak. Or just that the end result will be a happy fable, all wrapped up with the fact the author loves children.

I think back to my childhood – I read everyday, every week. I would make my way to the school library once every three or four days, and load my arms with as many books as my little skinny arms could carry. Then, instead of socializing, I’d immediately crack one of those covers, and allow the author’s blood and tears to take me to the land created between those hard covers. I recall on many occasions even having difficulty lifting my head to walk. Could those writers have influenced me to want to develop my space in time – leaving me with a desire to recreate a loved childhood, lost to the years?

Maybe the writer enjoys recalling the time playing outside? As for me I never wanted to go in the house. I always wanted daylight, which meant I could stay out forever. Perhaps a special childhood friendship is the motive, and recreating that alliance on paper will hold those memories close to the heart. Because we know we grow up so fast, and when you reach a certain age, one realizes how fast the years have gone by – didn’t I have my twelfth birthday two years ago? Therefore, why not preserve those precious moments. Watching youngsters play; listening to their heartfelt laughter, and understanding how simple life is then – the way they roll around in the grass, jump rope or play hopscotch without being ridiculed. Does the writer still have these desires, admitting to themselves it really did end too soon, and they weren’t done being a child?

As for me I undoubtedly needed more time. I loved laying in the grass, climbing trees, and riding my bike. Which again states, for me, it may be about reconstructing a bygone era; a time when no worries abound, and summer spelled staying outside until the lightning bugs appeared. Then, chasing and catching them until a parent’s voice summoned. After all of this, I’m still wondering, and asking what drove the greats, George Washington Carver, C.S. Lewis, and Beatrix Potter – how can I possibly hope to be such a writer? Did they also have a longing to return to their childhood? What makes one want to contribute to the young mind? Is it an attempt to be part of a child’s development; bestowing the same morals as were instilled in us by our parents or a combination of the two? Too many questions, too few answers. All I know is that writing children’s books is so close to my heart, and extremely fulfilling. I pass these questions on like handing off the Olympic torch – if you have a love of writing children’s books, take a minute – tell me why, and maybe your answers will resolve some of my nagging questions.

Photos courtesy of iStockPhoto