Monday, December 28, 2009

Interview With a Vampire-Loving Six Year Old

By Devon Rhodes (with help from Sarah and Elizabeth)

ME:  Do you want to come upstairs so I can interview you?

S: What's an interview?

Me:  That's where I ask you questions, and you answer them, and I type the answers into the computer.

S: Sure! Besides, I have this (movie) on tape! So you're writing a story about me?

Me: Not exactly.  It's for work.

S: (dejectedly) Okay. (Then whimpers, pretending she can't reach the ground until I hand her some ladybug markers)

Me: Okay, so how long has Mama been writing?

S: A year? (pretty close, good girl!)

Me: What do you think Mama writes?

S: Love stories? And Mommy, if I don't remember, can I say "pass" to the next question?

Me: Of course! What do you think about Mommy writing?

S: Pass!

Me: Has Mommy ever written anything for you?

S: (disgustedly) No! You promised me you were going to write a vampire story for Halloween for me but you never did. I want my vampire story! (dramatic sigh) I guess I'll wait until next Halloween.

E: (panting and whimpering, then sitting up and begging)

Me: Do you want a Scooby snack?

E: (smiling and panting)

I hand-feed her a piece of my bagel then pat her on the head and say "Good doggy."  (Don't ask.)

S: Can I have some of your bagel too? (taking the entire remaining half)

Me: (sigh) Go ahead. What kind of stories do you like?

S: Pass.

Me: Okay, what's your favorite book so far that you've read?

S: Harry Potter 2.

Me: Is that the Chamber Of Secrets?

S: Yep. Do you want to ask my favorite ice cream?

Me: Uh, sure.

S: Cookie Dough! Can we make omelets now?

Me: No, Mommy's working, maybe in a few minutes.

S: (wrinkles nose at me) I'm hungry!

Me: Go cut yourself some orange cheese, or peel one of those little oranges. Are you done being interviewed?

S: Can I tell them about my boyfriend?

Me: You're only six; He's not really your boyfriend.

S: (stamps her foot) Yes, he is! Duh! He's been my boyfriend for three years now. And I'll be seven in a couple weeks! (Rolls her eyes like a pro and stomps off.)

E: (reappears in her pumpkin costume) Ta-da!

Me: Are you a pumpkin?

E: No! I a Merry Christmas, Sarah!

Me: I'm not Sarah, I'm Mommy!

E: (switches topics since I have her beat) I hungry!

Me: Here's a cracker.

E: NO! I want orange cheese! (must've seen her sister get some cheddar)

Me: (calling out) Sarah! Cut your sister some orange cheese. (To E) Your sissy will cut you some.

Overheard after Elizabeth returns downstairs:

S: How about a bagel?

E: No, orange cheese!

S: Here's a baaaagel!

E: NO!  Orange cheese, silly!



This goes on most of the day, and can get even more convoluted and distracting when my hub's around to chime in.  Which is why I do most of my writing in the late evening and nighttime when all three are in bed. I find my insomnia a blessing now, and last night (not untypically) I was up writing until after 3am.

There are a few home truths which even the three year old has learned in the past year or so:

1. Mommy is not a problem solver until she has coffee.
2. (Directed at hub) Do not steal Mommy's laptop unless you want to be subjected to heavy sighs and dramatic eye rolls accompanied by slamming objects around until she gets it back. (I'm passive-aggressive that way) And I'm buying my own damn laptop on January 2nd.
3. When the laptop is open, Mommy has left the building.

I like to think I'm a good mom, and I also have to say that since I don't work outside the home, I'm constantly around for the kids.  Even when I get involved in what I'm doing, I CAN be interrupted for important reasons (like someone's hungry, hurt, or wandering around when they should be in bed). And they had my undivided attention up until last spring, so that (partially) alleviates the guilt I feel when they have to ask me something ten times before a question registers, or I come downstairs to find all the red peppers in the fridge with big bites taken out of them (the three year old is a forager).

I unwrap the string cheese that my three year old brings me without delay.

I still manage to get most of the laundry and dinner done on time.

I've only gotten Sarah to dance class late once because I was wrapped up in a story.

I can carry off the automatic observation of "That's nice!" in response to whatever is shown me (except for a boom, ie a boo-boo, although occasionally I trot it out by mistake, prompting an affronted display worthy of a Broadway show). And I catch the muttered words "in the black hole", which is how my hub refers to me being on the laptop, often enough that I think my passive-aggressiveness is wearing off on him.

My new career is not without family conflicts, and here's where I'll gloss over the details. But I like to think that I'm giving my kids my whole, "real" self now that I'm doing what I love, and hopefully someday they will understand why.

Why I do what I do.

Why I sometimes put something intangible "first".

And why, when you boil it down, every single thing I do is still for them.


  1. Devon, That's a great interview and very very funny and very very real! That you can get anything done at all with little kids running around is a testament to your powers of concentration.

    Re glossing over the details of family conflict, it's the devil that's in those details, darlin', so don't leave them unattended. Like you said, we do what we have to for our kids!

    Love to you! Claire

  2. Great interview Devon! I last so hard my attorneys were looking at me funny. Way to juggle and get it all done.

  3. Awesome interview and parenting. Here's the thing - I think it's important that our kids get the whole package, which granted, sometimes means distracto-mom.

    Kids need to see their parents as individual people whose lives, while centered on their children, do involve things other than their children. I think it's important for them to watch us work to follow our dreams. As parents, we lead by example and this is a concrete way that we can demonstrate to our kids that hard work and following our passion pays off - not only monetarily but at a soul-deep level. That kind of lesson is right up there with unconditional love.

    BTW, Sarah and Elizabeth are adorable!!! :)

  4. Devon,

    Sarah & Elizabeth are adorable. That picture is cuteness personified.

    Great take on this week's theme.


  5. That interview was just precious, and your daughters are beautiful! You sound like an awesome mom. The Scooby snack gave me the best laugh of the day.

  6. Beautiful kids. That's funny about her boyfriend. I was falling in love with girls when i was seven years old too. Kids are mysterious.


  7. Hello, Devon,

    I hope that you've properly thanked Sarah and Elizabeth for their contributions to the Grip!

    I agree with Bronwyn. (I was going to say more or less the same thing before I read her comments.) Kids benefit from seeing that their parents have separate lives and special occupations. They will come to understand what it means for someone to concentrate and work hard at what they love. I think that in the long run, they'll become more independent and creative after seeing you create.

    But you definitely need your own laptop! (It's tax deductible...)


  8. Thanks! All true, Claire, and I know you're an expert on making a writing career and kids work! :) I appreciate your insights always.

  9. V, glad I brought laughter to your day! Kids can be hilarious, I wonder now just how much laughter my parents stifled over the years.

  10. Thanks Bron! I agree, and like every parent, I hope they will be true to themselves. You are the queen of offspring observances, your Riding in Cars with Teenaged Boys series is just classic. Makes me (kind of) look forward to the teen years, although right now that seems so far off!

  11. Thanks Ash and Garce! Yes, she's been calling Spencer her boyfriend since the second year of preschool and it managed to last through Kindergarten now into 1st grade. (shakes head) That's longer than my own second longest relationship!

  12. Hi Eyre! God, she's just bonkers over Scooby Doo right now, and she'll sit there and beg for a Scooby adorable. Has her older sister doing it too now. Glad you enjoyed!

  13. Hi Lisabet! Yes, Bron really summed it up nicely. I think it's important as a parent, especially of girls, to help them realize they can express and not repress their own special gifts as I felt I had to do for so many years.

    And yes, laptop purchase is my only To-Do for January 2nd, been holding off to offset next year's taxes! ;) So close!!

  14. LOL-- sounds like my house-- but more orderly and fewer teenagers! (3, 6, 15 & 17.... just more people!)

  15. LOL Amy, that sounds...loud. The naive part of me thinks, oh, more "adult" hands to help. The realistic side says, yeah, help to create more work!


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