I haven't been writing long enough to experience it, but I've heard that most writers are plagued by the dreaded "writer's block" at one point or another. It's said that any of a number of things can cause it. A looming deadline, stress brought on by life events, and complete amnesia are just a few.
I've considered this phenomenon a bit recently and concluded that as long as I really don't care what people think about what I write, I should be able to avoid it. Barring amnesia, that is. And it should be said that it's my kids that are the real talent around here, anyway. I have no end of good material.
A few weeks ago, I was playing with my kids and thinking about this very subject while I blocked Brady's ...er, Wolverine's karate chops and punches, pulled Ellie down off the top of the piano, and helped Riley avoid being crushed in the melee. Riley was playing with our set of wooden letter blocks, the ones that have a letter or number on each side and are fun for building towers and even more fun to knock down, so I decided to join him for some building and gleeful destruction.
As I was building, I started to put them together to spell out words. I started with my kids' names (Ellie's name ended up as Elli3; I couldn't find another E), then decided to go for the longest word I could assemble. "Together" was the best I could do, employing that 3 again in place of the second E. Since then, every time I think about the concept of writer's block, an image of these brightly-colored blocks jumps to mind. I can't say why, but it's strangely comforting.
As I was warming to the idea that there was a blog post in there somewhere, my thoughts were shattered by an unexpected flying roundhouse kick from our resident superhero who succeeded in knocking down our tower, knocking his little brother's head against the floor, and almost knocking the wind out of his daddy all in one perfectly executed move.
Normally, I would have praised his technique and tackled and tickled him, but I was caught totally off-guard, and that shock, combined with the pain in my gut and the crying baby with the welt rising on his little noggin, caused me to lose my cool. I yelled at Brady and told him to go to his room.
I didn't call him names or belittle him, but the look on his face when I raised my voice like that was enough to cut me to the heart. I quickly came to my senses and realized that he wasn't the problem here. I was. I gave him a hug and apologized for yelling, and then we both gave Riley a hug. Riley responded by giving me a good-natured punch in the nose as if I were responsible for the bump on his head, and Ellie joined in the group hug. All was right in our little world once again.
The crushed look on Brady's face stuck with me, though, and in thinking more about this post, I drew another parallel. My kids are a lot like those blocks. I build them up with painstaking care, but a single careless blow is all it takes to knock them down. Thankfully, short towers are easier to rebuild than tall ones, so we parents would do well to learn this lesson well while our kids are small.
In short, we're the architects of our kids' self-image, and we spell it out for them in brightly colored letters. This writer hopes his blocks spell out the right things.
This post is brought to you by the letter E and the number 3.