Year ago I heard an evangelist speak about raising children. I don’t remember much of his message, but one sentence in particular stuck with me. In the context he had mentioned how our children are so sweet, so precious, yet they do need training. They can be so cute, but don’t let them sweet talk you out of discipline when they’re naughty.
Then he said, “And when you have grandchildren….they are the cutest and the smartest and the best there ever was!” He went on to encourage grandparents to let parents discipline those little souls, not interfere or be indulgent when the grandchildren need a firm NO and the parents are giving it. (Believe me, that’s hard for grandparents.)
It’s true. Our grandchildren really are SO cute and SO smart and it’s so tempting for grandparents who write to incorporate them into amusing little stories. Of course it tickles preschoolers no end to hear their own names woven into Grandpa’s or Grandma’s tales, too.
One day I was visiting my daughter and family when Alyssa was quite small. As children do, she threw her arms around Daddy’s leg and looked up the four-foot difference between. And I got the idea for a great children’s book: GIANT Alyssa. This would be a book about comparative sizes: when Alyssa stands beside Daddy he’s a giant but when she pick up a kitten she’s a giant. To a ladybug she’s like a mountain. Etc. (I could see a book like this selling well.)
Alyssa would have loved my book when she was three or four. Even now at age six it would still amuse her to be Giant Alyssa. Her little friends would giggle and soon forget it. Ah, but…. When she’s thirteen, would she appreciate it if people referred to her as Giant Alyssa?
What about when she’s twenty and visits other places where my book has preceded her? Perhaps she’ll be introduced this way: “Hey everyone, this is Alyssa A. You know, the one whose Grandma wrote a book about her. GIANT Alyssa.”
I suspect Alyssa would NOT be amused. In time this could get downright annoying.
Our grandson Evan is a cute, round little guy. I could easily dream up a tale about a fuzzy wuzzy bunny and call it Evan, just for fun. Right now he’d like that, but someday Evan will be too old to appreciate being linked with a fuzzy wuzzy bunny.
I read once that A. A. Milne’s son, Christopher Robin, of Pooh Bear fame, told people his father had ruined his life. Can’t you just image folks forever asking him – those who knew his “connections” – even at age 35 or 40, “Oh, did you leave Winnie at home today?” How old would that get?
On August 1st, 43 years ago I married my sweetheart, who came with the surname Goodnough. (Pronounced just like ‘good enough.’) It’s an old New England name, southern English in origin, spelled variously as Goodnough, Goodenough, Goodenow, Goodno, Goodenowe, depending on the whims of registering clerks. I can’t tell you how many zillion times I have/ he has/ we have heard “Oh! So I guess you’re good enough, then? Ha ha ha.” or (to me) “So he was good enough for you, eh?” Or “Now you’re good enough, too.” Because everyone who hears the name for the first time thinks he’s making an original joke. We should laugh.
My husband has had 28 more years to deal with it than I have; he just smiles politely. Sometimes I roll my eyes, grit my teeth and hope they get the hint. (Okay, I need to learn forbearance.) One man cracked that joke with my husband one day, then – bless his heart – came back later of his own accord to apologize for being so flippant. Now that I appreciate!
I can just imagine what Christopher Robin went through. And I can imagine how mortified my grandchildren would be if every fifth person they met had to comment on GIANT Alyssa or Fuzzy Wuzzy Evan. People, especially teens, love jokes and puns; sad to say they may also enjoy needling someone.
There’s a time to have story time fun with the grandchildren and there’s a time to look ahead and see what they may face in future. So my book will be Giant Gladiola or Giant Gloxinia, and Fuzzy Wuzzy Wimbie will do just great, but I shall resist the urge to immortalize (read: mortify) my grandchildren in stories that go to press – just in case my books, by some miracle, do fly off the shelves.