In a recent post, I wrote about my daughter thumbing through my books, then declaring her own desire to write someday:
Nevertheless, one day, while picking through my books, she said, "Daddy, when you're done writing books" (translation: when you're dead) "I'll take over and write them all. And then, when I'm done, my daughter will write them. And then her daughter will, too."
Two nights ago, after we finished brushing her teeth, Squish started asking questions about my August deadline. (That's when I have to hand in the first draft of my next book.) She's been enjoying evenings in my office lately, reading books or drawing pictures or whatnot while I write and edit.
"Well, what do you think about I could help you?" she asked me.
"Help me how?"
"Well, I could help you by giving you options."
"Options. That's when you have choices, Daddy."
"Oh, right. Options. Options for what?"
She thought about it. "Well, I could give you some words to choose from. Or I could tell you what stories you should tell. Ooh—what if we wrote a story about a little girl named Squish, and her daddy writes books, and she helps him by writing his books?"
Right off the bat, she's in Charlie Kaufman territory. "I think the best way you can help me with this book is by reading books in my office, like you already do. That puts all that good story energy in the air, and helps me get my work done."
She wasn't having it. "Right, but I want to write the story with you."
So we're going to do it, but of course, with a project all her own. Squish is going to keep a little notebook, fill it with her story and character ideas, and then one day we'll sit down and start planning her story together.
As I tucked her into bed that night, she said, "I already know who the story is about."
"Her name is Aroma Battleship. A-r-o-m-a B-a-t-t-l-e-s-h-i-p."
"That's a heck of a name."
"Wait, no. It's Airoma. Because she can fly."
On Father's Day, Squish and Felicia took me to the movies. We saw The Incredibles 2, which featured a beautiful little short film called Bao. That little story is all about a mother and her child, and how their relationship evolves over the years, and how hard it can be to let go. Squish thought it was adorable when she saw it, and then hours later burst into tears about some of the story's sadder bits. She drew a tiny dumpling-child and asked Felicia to make it for her. So Felicia did, using Squish's sketch as a blueprint. She sewed and plumped up a little dumpling plush, and Squish drew a face on it.
Between conjuring Squish's drawings to life, and bringing her imaginary tales of flying battleship-girls into the world, I think we just might be doing some parenting things right.