Through the Eyes of a Child

11 Nov

When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with “The LittleHouse on the Prairie.” I had the box set of books, and I read them cover tocover, over and over again. I wanted to wear my hair in braids and make maplecandy in the snow. I wanted to dance to Pa playing his fiddle and ride in awagon, live in a house built of earth and fall in love with Almanzo. I wantedto see what she saw and live like she lived. I want to be Laura Ingalls Wilder, but I couldn’t. So, I did the next bestthing. I re-created her world in my imagination, and I lived there. 
My bedroom was my sod house, my living room the prairie. I“churned butter” with a broom in a bucket, and made friends with the Indian wholived in the laundry room “teepee.” Hours, days, weeks of my life were lostplaying “On Plum Creek.” It was solitary play. No one else could see what Isaw. Where I saw lazy streams and waterfalls, fields of buttercups, giant oaksand lurking wolves, General Stores and pot-belly stoves, my sister saw the sofaor the curtains or the hall closet. It wasn’t lack of imagination that kept herfrom seeing my world the way that I saw it. It was simply because she wasn’t“me.”
Trying to describe the world through a child’s eyes isnearly impossible. Sure, you can crawl on the floor and look up instead of downand try to empathize with their plight to do even the simplest things, likeopening the silverware drawer. But are you really, truly “seeing” a child’sworld simply by crawling around on all fours? I highly doubt it. Not unless yourshort-stature is a magic porthole back into the innocence of youth wherefairies do exist and the staircase to the basement is not a staircase at all buta school bus full of Cabbage Patch dolls, a trouble-making Popple, and a gruffand grumbling Pooh Bear bus driver who’s just trying to make a living.
Children live in a suspended state of elated wonder, wherethe simplest things bring the greatest joys. They live in a world where it’s hardto sit still and damn near impossible to walk when it’s so much better to berunning, or skipping, or gallopingfrom one adventure to the next. Children live where brown crayons look so muchlike Tootsie-Rolls it would be foolish not to bite into one and taste it—so theydo. Children lack impulse control. They have no sense of time. They hit andpinch and bite when they’re angry, and cry so hard they fall asleep. They canbe incredibly selfish, yet they love unconditionally. They forgive in aninstant. They giggle over puppies and peek-a-boo, and spin until they’re dizzy.They sing when they poop and have never heard of revenge… Quite simply, theyare who we wish we could still be.
As an author, the child’s mind intimidates me. I have noproblem writing a child in third person, where you rely on observation andinterpretation. But when challenged by Story Dam with the prompt of writingfrom the child’s point of view, of delving into that intricate, rainbow-coloredmind, I froze. Literally. My blood ran cold and I got the shakes, and my mindscreamed, “Noooooo!” I was abasket-case.
I’ve written child POV before, and to be honest, it was someof my worst writing ever. The dialogue was cheesy, the thought processes tooanalytical. My adult mind infused itself into the character, ruining the effectI was going for. I’ve shied away from doing it again. I envy the authors whowrite children’s books. They do an exceptional job capturing that “wow!”feeling of being a child. I don’t. So I haven’t done it again.
But, if you don’t stretch, you don’t grow, so instead ofskipping this round, I figured I’d give it another shot. The next post on thisblog is my attempt at the child’s mind. Hopefully, it’s not too painful to readall the way through. As you read, if your brain starts to ache, just remindyourself that I was capped at 600 words, so at least it’s a short pain! 😉

3 Responses to “Through the Eyes of a Child”

  1. Brandon Duncan November 11, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    Geez, Donna! I wasn't trying to do all THAT to you! ;)I'm headed over to your piece after this, and I'm sure it will be just fine. Have a little confidence, ok? We're learning together in all this.Now, as far as the child's POV, I am in the process of writing a children's book (sort of on hold at the moment for obvious reasons) and I will tell you this – I chose to write a kid's book first, thinking it would be easier than writing for adults. HA HAAAAAA! Not a chance. I think it is much more difficult.The only thing that allows me to continue is that I find the curiosity, wonderment, and magic of the child's imagination so incredibly fun. I try to imagine what they feel and think in all situations, because I want to maximize my (and others') children's experiences. To do that, you have to think like a kid, which as my wife will tell you, I am very good at, lol!Times were so much simpler when we were kids, though, weren't they?

  2. Donna Sturgeon November 11, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    Yeah, I tend to over-analyze things a little. LOL Funny, but I started with dreams of writing children's books as well, but your right, it's HARD! I ended up taking the easier road, but one day I may go back. I actually had a lot of fun writing this piece. Once I started, it wasn't nearly as scary as my mind worked it up to be. I don't know if it was exactly what you intended by the prompt, (probably not!) but it was fun. 🙂

  3. Brandon Duncan November 11, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

    After reading your submission, you should really re-think your abilities! That was a great piece! And, no, it shouldn't have been scary.And a prompt is exactly that. Like I said on the Facebook page, it's designed to inspire you. The work is yours, we're just giving you a suggestion. Wherever you take it is completely up to you.I'm glad you had fun with it!

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