The Write Stuff

In which our reluctant hero realises that he may have done something good, quite by accident.

Earlier in the week, I read an article called “I Write Letters to My 8-Year-Old So I Can Reach Her When She’s Grown.

The title is full on Ronseal, so there’s little to add apart from that mum has written a letter each month since before her child was born and that there’s 204 letters at the time of writing. By my reckoning, either the child should now be sixteen or seventeen, or the letters were started about eight years before conception. But who am I to criticise the logic, math, or spelling, of an American?

I confess that the writing style isn’t really my cup of tea, seemingly page after page of “you’re so beautiful and wonderful” and “I’m a bit rubbish but I try soooo hard.”

How is the author is going to use the letters to reach her daughter? Well, at one point, mum imagines her daughter locked in her room while she waits patiently outside. Assuming that the daughter is sixteen by then (as there’s talk of boyfriends and that is NOT happening before sixteen in my house) there will be over, like, six hundred letters or something, if the same unique counting system is adopted.

Reach the daughter? In a locked room? Slipping the letters under the door, as the author proposes, would certainly mean that they reach her daughter, but how she might read them while trapped under a sea of paper when they’re all delivered is anyone’s guess. And would a sixteen year old be receptive to such a blanket of emotions anyway?

Flippancy asides, the idea of writing a monthly letter is an interesting one that caught my attention. Being British and a bloke, I exactly match the core demographic of people that don’t really do emotions as well as they might. So, capturing some of the thoughts and feelings from the good and bad bits of life may create a nice thing to look back upon. Not just by children once grown, but by mums and dads too.

Assuming that tuition fees don’t surpass the national debt of a small country, there’s affordable houses to live in, and jobs left to do, then, one day, we will have to let go of our offspring. And, apparently, it won’t be easy. I slightly dispute this given our current plans to sell our two year old if he doesn’t start behaving soon. (Just how do you shatter a DVD with your bare hands at that age?)

The author describes the change in her writing over the years, with the letters starting out as the story of her growing child, but evolving into a journal of how she has developed as a parent. So not just a tool to reach out with, but a record for mum to look back upon, remember, and cherish too.

This is something that I can in part associate with, simply from my current vocation of churning this guff out every week.

When I agreed to write this blog, I had no real plan. “Parenting stuff written by a Dad” was pretty much the brief. I thought that the content would naturally chronicle the crazy antics of my own children (what else?) but, looking back, it’s more loosely about them and more about the parenting process.

I expected the posts to peter out over a few weeks but, amazingly, my blog is alive and well over half a year on. Blimey. At times I have considered stopping writing it, primarily because it takes far more time than you think to plan and put together, and, secondly, as nobody really seems interested in reading it if the stats are anything to go by.

But then I was encouraged to think about who I am really writing for. My blog may say “NCT” at the top, but what I’ve created to date is a permanent record of 20,000 or so words touching on my family and parts of our lives that would have probably been lost and forgotten otherwise.

Ok, my approach may be to do less of the soppy stuff and more of the cataloguing disasters and being cross with the kids, but I’ve done it. Almost half a novel’s worth of thoughts and memories no less. Words that I may, one day, be able to print off and, page by page, slip under the door of a sulky teenager to remind them what a pain in the ear hole that they were. Oh, and of some of the fun we all had too.

So, will this inspire you to pick up a pen, keyboard, or a portable telephone and start scribbling something of your own too? Try it. I’m not a writer, so if I can do it, anyone can. You never know, it might be fun*.

(*) It won’t be.


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