So I wrote a children’s book. If anyone was surprised, they couldn’t have been more surprised than me.
You see, I have no children. Having children was something I assumed I would do, but was never something I yearned for. You know how when a woman brings her baby into a group of other women, and everyone wants to hold the baby? Ya, I was never that woman. Babies have never mesmerized me, enthralled me, or sparked a yearning in my soul that wouldn’t die.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just not me.
So when a children’s book showed up in my head, I wanted to dismiss it. I wanted to, but I couldn’t. It was like I had verbal diarrhea and no amount of Imodium could shut me up about this crayon and her story. And when I realized that resistance was futile, I wrote the story down, and did what was necessary to publish it and get it out into the world.
I started by reading to young kids. Groups of little kindergartners huddled around me, listening to me read. And after I finished, I’d try to start a conversation about the themes in the book. Themes of self-acceptance and the importance of being yourself. I’d ask questions and those wee sweeties would raise their hands, desperately wanting to answer, (God love them) and I’d think, “Yes! This is going to be great”, and then I’d look them in the eye and give them the floor, and…they’d have already lost their fleeting thought and would just sit there, silently staring into space. Or they would tell me that I could write a story about a blue crayon or a yellow crayon. Sometimes they’d just tell me they liked crayons. Huh. Cute, but not what I was going for. Obviously, I didn’t know my audience, but like I said, I don’t have kids. What do I know? And each time I left a school, walking back to my car, I’d feel grateful and happy that I was invited, but disappointed too. Something wasn’t right, but I didn’t know what. I just wasn’t feeling it. You know what I mean?
And then one day, a principal invited me to speak to all of the grades at her school. Half way through the day, I walked into a class of particularly disruptive 11 year olds, supposedly to speak about writing. The teachers were to have had questions ready, and lead the discussion, but instead, I was ushered in, introduced, and left to my own devices. So I thought I might as well speak about what interests me. Self-acceptance. And when some kids starting talking about anxiety, I was off and running. This is something I know about. We can have a real conversation here. And we did, and it was awesome.
That opportunity led to other speaking engagements and more conversations with kids who are trying to find their place in this world. I realized that I have something to offer these kids. Maybe I can help. After all, I have had an internal journey worthy of Odysseus. I’ve figured out a lot of shit.
And when I look at where this little book has led me, I am amazed. I am thankful that I listened to that voice that told me to put that story to paper. That told me to say yes to speaking opportunities. I am grateful that I trusted the process and stayed open to where this could lead me, knowing that this was about more than just a book. And by trusting the process, I have found that baby that I want to hold and coo over.
Speaking to these kids just feels right. I have had students tell me that my words have helped them. I have had teachers and guidance councillors tell me that what I have to say is what students need to hear. So I will continue to trust the process and see where this path leads. Trust that wherever it goes, it will be good. Wish me luck.