I’ve always said that I am building my library for my future, that I wanted my kids to grow up in a houseful of books like I did. Sometimes I question that decision. I don’t think the literacy of kids could ever be promoted strongly enough. It’s something that starts young, through their developing years. They learn the nuances of language, a love of literature. It feeds their imaginations, gives them the drive to know all the places they could go. It expands their minds, but it also gives them unfair expectations.
Every fairytale, every fable…there’s a strong moral sense of right and wrong. There are no shades of grey – people are good or they are bad. On one level it’s an important message for kids. It’s the best way to orientate the moral compass that will serve them throughout their lives, but on the other hand they could walk the path that I did.
People never understand why I say that I don’t want my children to have the same gifts I do. I would love for them to make stuff but I don’t want them to write. I don’t want them to have the same imagination that I do. The truth is that those same stories that gave me my sense of right and wrong captured my imagination and let it soar unchecked. I walked with giants, grew up with princesses, fought demons, slayed dragons and fell in love with princes. The more I read the more I dreamed and the older I am the harder it is to come back.
Where I work I come into contact regularly with the underbelly of society. Like so many others I lie awake at night worrying about paying the bills. For various reasons I will always struggle with my weight. Every time I ‘come back’ from reading or writing a book or watching a film I look around me at my life and want to weep from despair. I want to fall to my knees and scream “IS THIS ALL THERE IS?” Is this all there is…some days it feels too hard to accept. Understanding that good does not always triumph, that men are not like Prince Charming, that magic does not exist, that I will never be wealthy or slim or beautiful…it’s a bitter pill to swallow.
When my frame of reference for life is based on the fiction I read as a child, how can I be okay with the tectonic shift in perception that is required to adjust to real life? It’s something I struggle with on a daily basis. It’s why I write. It’s an escape. As much as I love to write, as much as I love weaving stories that touch others, it has a darker underside.
I don’t want that for my future children. However unrealistic it may seem, I want them to walk in lightness all their days.