The Downside of Living in an Imaginary World

AshAnnoyedI 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 disciplinary-1326277_1920was 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 (I know, ten dollars isn’t much, but I was unpublished back then so dividing my hours based on salary … :/ )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.)

2015-03-15 00.36.25Can 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. 😉



About Jennifer Slattery

Novelist and speaker Jennifer Slattery, also writing as Jen Pheobus, uses humor, grace, and truth to inspire God's children to live abundant, Christ-centered lives. She does content editing for Firefly, a southern fiction imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, and is a regular contributor to; Internet Cafe Devotions; Faith, Friends and Chocolate; and manages the social media for Takin’ it to the Streets, a ministry that serves Omaha’s working poor and homeless. She’s placed in numerous writing contests and her work has appeared in numerous compilations, magazines, and e-zines.
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6 Responses to The Downside of Living in an Imaginary World

  1. leecarver says:

    Our daughter was a high school senior. Her brother was already in college, far away. For her birthday party, she invited a few good friends for dinner and cake. I prepared a huge pot of lasagne for the teenagers, but her face fell when she saw it. “But Mom, I don’t like lasagne.” I countered with, “I thought it was your favorite meal.” “No,” she answered. “It’s [her brother’s] favorite.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. leecarver says:

    Funny thing is, she likes spaghetti just fine. I tried to convince her it was almost the same thing. She didn’t pout, but I never forgot. She soon moved off to college, married… I don’t think I’ve ever served her lasagne since.


  3. That’s a great story, Jen. I didn’t forget my kids, but I have forgotten about a meeting I was to attend because I was so deep into galley edits. Looked up from the keyboard about ten minutes after the meeting was due to end.


    • Oh, my, you must’ve written an amazing story if the edits captured your attention that much! (I find my mind drifts when I’m editing. A weakness of mine … That’s a bummer about the meeting, though! Did that stress you out? Did it turn out okay? We writers need to give everyone disclaimers–may inadvertently call you by the our characters’ names, will likely lose track of time, could write you in a story at any time then kill you off … 😉


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