Saturday, 28 July 2012

Courage of a Father to Learn from a Child

It's amazing how you go through your life trying to teach your children all those life lessons that your father taught you growing up:  be polite, clean up your messes, look both ways before crossing the street, don't spit or piss into the wind...and then one day you realise those very kids are the ones teaching you the lessons.

My two kids are basic opposites.  My daughter is 12 and at the stage where she has to deal with hormones and her body and how people react to her body.  her worst trait is that she is shy and afraid of everything.  I was just like that when I was, I was about to write her age but really I was like that from age 11 and have been struggling to get out of being like that ever since.  For my 21st birthday my parents wanted to take me out to a restaurant but I fought with my father because I was too frightened to go to a crowded restaurant.  LShopping Malls at Christmas give me panic attacks.  At 24 I started working as a security guard and got into a full blown shouting match with a parking attendant.  For a few years I was able to talk to people, but had trouble going up to strangers and saying hi.  Over the past few ears I have been getting better, but only when I ssaw how terrified my dauther is of going anywhere and doing anything have I started busting out of my own box.

My son is 10 and fearless.  When I was his age I was getting ready to climb into my turtle shell and hide out.  For him you offer a chance to do something new and he jumps to the front of the line.  he can run into a brand new community pool and make friends within seconds.  When he was 4 he held large cockroaches in his hands at a zoo.  Now he would probably try riding a lion.

An overnight trip to a campground with a youth group came up and my son said, "Okay," before the question was asked.  My daughter said, "no."  Somehow we convinced her to go.  When the time came to get on the bus my son jumped up the stairs.  My daughter needed a push and then sat by the window crying hoping we would pull her out.  When they got back the next day she tried to keep a blank sad face as she talked about all the things she did.

And the lesson is...sometimes you have to do things that scare you or make you feel uncomfortable in order to have new experiences and blossom.  I'm worried that my daughter could end up like me and be afraid of things for a long time.  Writers tend to be loners.  They sit in their little corners of the world giving the voices in their heads a medium to get the writers message out.  They lack the courage to go out and talk to strangers or try new experiences.  It is not their fault really.  With all the people in their heads, who has time for reality?

I probably know more writers who are too afraid to take the next step from being a writer to being a published author than I do of actual published authors.  so many are worried about the rejection or getting bad reviews or not selling any books.  "I want to be a published author, but the manuscript isn't long enough...its not ready yet...blah blah"  If you never take the plunge you never get rejected, but you won't get accepted either.  No great 5 star reviews, no selling your story and getting it out there just a pile of paper taking up space.  Mailing off your manuscript is terrifying and you have to be patient, but like my son, sometimes you just have to take the leap.  For me, I have been sending off stories for almost as long as I have been writing.  I've had some rejection and some acceptance.  The bad part about publishing  online is that so many out there are doing it and it takes time to get your book and name out there.  It's a courageous battle we all must take.  for me I am still afraid, but I try being like my son more and more and hope my daughter will, in her own time, find her own courage.

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