I didn’t mean to forget her, not the first time or the … um … tenth? Maybe twentieth. I could probably get a more exact number looking back on past budgets. But before you determine I’m the worst parent on the planet, can I explain?
You probably know writers are creative. We spend most of our day living in a world of our own making. If anyone else made such a statement, they’d be deemed insane, or at the very least, reality-challenged. Then again, reality is overrated. 😉
Here’s the deal–the deeper a writer immerses herself into storyworld, the more authentic her novels. As we write, we become the POV character–we think, feel, experience what they would. Much like actors do, I imagine.
So, what happens when one is completely immersed in a conflict unfolding in Seattle, Washington, or Kansas City, or … ? They tend to become oblivious to time, and that, my friends, is why I forgot to pick my child up on … eh, hem, a few occasions. Okay, so I didn’t forget her-forget her, but I was delayed. Until I received a text, “Mom, where are you?!”
Oops! Good thing we live less than ten minutes from the high school. Cell phones are a writer’s best friend!
Obviously, I felt terrible, so I quickly worked to rectify this problem. My solutions? I began to use reality discipline. On myself. For those of you unfamiliar with this term, I believe it was coined by child psychologist Dr. Kevin Leeman. Reality discipline is allowing a child to experience the natural consequences to their actions, the goal being that this will cause them to change their behavior. Let me tell you, it works! For the child … and the parent. (Sheepish grin.)
First, the background. When our daughter forgot something at home and asked me to bring it, I’d give her the option of paying me for the gas it took to bring the item to her or go without it. I also charged her for my time because, well, my time is valuable. Basically, I’d charge her ten dollars per trip. (I know, ten dollars isn’t much, but I was unpublished back then so dividing my hours based on salary … )
Well, I may be forgetful and prone to slip a little too deeply into my writing, but I’m not a hypocrite. I’ve always believed my child deserved to be treated with the same consideration and respect that I wanted her to treat her father and me with. In other words, her time was also worth money, $10 to be exact. (Actually, I think back then her time was actually worth more than mine, if one considered her typical babysitting wage and did the math.)
Can you see where this is going? The upside, for her, anyway–she began to look forward to my forgetfulness. What an easy way for her to earn money, right? I wasn’t so enthused, so I began setting the kitchen timer. And placing post it notes on the floor as back up.
And adding a “forgot child” category into our budget.
Every personality has inherent weaknesses, and most careers have stereotypical personality types. What is the assumed personality for your job, and is that true in your case? Do you have any “oops” parenting stories you can share? Do so in the comments below, because we can all … um … laugh at–I mean with–one another. 😉