Sunday, November 10, 2013

First Bedtime Story Response - The Kids Were Marginally Impressed

In the spirit of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, I decided to begin writing my own bedtime stories, gathering a collection of them, and reading them to the kids. What I didn't expect is that they would comment on them and essentially be my kid-editors, making me a better writer.

Tonight, I read them my first story, The Old Man and the Turnip. The following were their responses:

Renaya (11): "So, Daddy. What happened to the turnip?!"

Me (33): "Um..."

See, what was running through my head was the fact that it was quite clear, in the story, what had happened to the turnip. In fact, from the eyes of the young lad, the old woman, and the bearded old man, we know what happened to the bloody turnip. I was beyond frustrated that, apparently, I hadn't made it clear enough. Maybe I needed the sun to have "looked down upon the blokes and follow the path of the turnip" - right into the old woman's mouth and subsequently, the old man's.

Renaya: "Oh wait! Yeah. I know! The old man bit it. It was still in the garden!"

Me (relieved): *poink!

Laura (10): "Daddy? Is that all? Do you have another story?"

Me: "Not yet. I'll write another one for tomorrow."

Her: "Can't you write it now?"

I love my little Laura.

Frederic (8): "Did the boy live?"

Good. Frederic understands the idea of a good story - don't reveal everything, giving the readers or listeners a chance to come to their own conclusions, causing their petrified brains to think for a bit, as they fall asleep.

Felicity (6): "Daddy! Daddy!"

Me: "Yes?"

Her: "I know that story!!!"

Me: "Uh..what? No no! I just wrote it!"

Her: "Nuh uh! My teacher just read it to me last week! I remember it!"

Now, I was summarily crushed. Two thoughts raced through my head. First, her teacher had read her The Old Man and the Sea, a similar classic, my title jogging her memory, yet forgetting that my story had no fishing line. Second, that my story was so un-original, her teacher had read her a story about an old man and a...carrot? Essentially, I was being accused of plagiarism by a six-year-old.

I wept inside and gave her the argument win.

Jack (4): "Daddy! I know how they can find the turnip! They just follow the footprints in the dirt, and it will lead them to the turnip!"

I laughed.

Analisse (3): *giggles...

So, those were my children's responses. I also ran the story by a dear friend, acting as my editor, as I amateurishly begin my Dr. Seuss career. Here were some of her suggestions. Please feel free to respond in kind, with your own, or agreeing with her wholeheartedly, or maybe even vociferously disagreeing, with a raised left brow.

1. If I was going for a realistic life story, the old man would have been unconscious and bleeding. He can't be so very "ok".

[I meant to do this. I wanted him to simply be dazed and life to move on. What say you?]

2. Cats traditionally just eat turnip greens.

3. The "Oh...and turnips." was a bit sloppy and detracted from the rest of the listing of vegetables in the garden. Try being a bit more deliberate in your wording.

4. The wife should have eaten the turnip and ignored the old man entirely, letting the audience make what they will about his demise or lack thereof.

[Here, I wanted the ending to be as I made it. I wanted the old couple to have a level of trust, which I feel I pulled off. What say you?]

5. The boy should want the turnip for himself.

[I kind of agree with her here. I like the idea.]

And that's it. I rather like my seven editors, six children and one adult.


  1. I agree with your editor... For the most part.

  2. I'm confused by one thing: You said there were no footprints in the dirt, but the boy was wearing shoes too large for him that were falling apart... shouldn't there be tracks?

  3. Cute story, but I have to put on my editor hat here and ask what was the old man laying? Eggs? "To lie" means to recline. "To lay" means to put or to place.