children

PROMPT: LABELS WE PUT ON CHILDREN

The prompt for the group meeting was the following line:

My wife tells me I’m really unfair to one of our children, but she’ll never tell me whether it’s Roger, Claire, or the lazy stupid one.

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Prompt-a-Month: Children’s Table

Writers in the Grove Prompt-a-Month badge.The April prompt-a-month for our Writers in the Grove members is:

Did you sit at the children’s table?

Writers in the Grove members may hand in their submissions during the workshops or use our members only submission form. Check out the guidelines and instructions for submissions in the announcement.

Writings From The Next Generation

The Writers In The Grove participants were given a chance to connect with kids from Gaston Grade School last year in Gaston, Oregon, a community next door to Forest Grove. A program was initiated by a parent to match up students with local writers for a chance for the next generation to practice writing with pen pals on a weekly basis.

Last year was a success with recognition in the local newspaper and a visit to the school from not only some of the pen pals but other professionals from the writing field. It was a fun and learning experience for the students as well as the adult writers.

This year, the students will have opportunities to see parts of their writing¬†that they send to Writer’s In The Grove pen pals published in this category we call Kids Write.

Hailing from the 2nd Grade of Gaston Grade School, here are some excerpts;

C. writes:

I am 7 years old. I have one dog.

I have one cat. I like Pokemon.

T. writes:

I like playing with my friends and I play in the park. I hope you can tell me more about Samson.

D. writes:

My chores are making my bed and getting the dogs water. I also like to play Pokemon.

And a poem from A.:

Smart

Smart in your heart

Because you are smart

Stay tuned for more great material from our new Kids Write section and efforts.

Good Enough

The following is from our Writers in the Grove member, Lorelle VanFossen, for our prompt-a-month series for July, based upon the prompt “garden.”

Sunflower, close upThe petals radiated out in a burst of sunlight, yellow, softly moving in the breeze. A bee landed on the center, climbing around the pistil and stamens that would soon become the seeds I’d snack on over the winter. They were so good, my mouth watered.

The center pattern of the sunflower is considered by many to be a mathematical marvel. I find it hypnotizing. While many believe it is a helix pattern, I trace the Fibonacci sequence from the center, spiraling out, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55…each number a sum of the previous two numbers. From the center, the future seeds curve curves out in two series, each winding in the opposite direction, stretching out to the very petals, each seed aligned with its neighbor, a mosaic found throughout history in the ancient tiled floors of the Byzantines, Romans, Greeks, and Moors. Or so my text books say.

The bee leaps off the flower as the wind tilts the flowery landscape, then returns, a black and yellow fuzzy creature crawling around the spiraling maze.

A thump on the ground next to me draws my attention back to earth. It’s my sister. She tugs on the soft green leaves of the plant. The bee loses its purchase and flies away.

“Whatcha doing?”

“Counting.”

She’s heard this before, and she never asks the obvious next question. She doesn’t care much about the world beyond her nose.

“I’m bored.”

I have no answer for that. It’s a statement that stymies me every time. How could anyone be bored. There is so much to see, so much to do, so much to learn – even the flowers teach us math and pattern. To her, this is an old song. The responsibility of the world is to entertain her, and right now, we are failing her.

A hawk stabs the air with its cry. I lean back to see it circling overhead, lifting on the warm current. A small bird dives out of seemingly nowhere to jab at it, warning the giant predator that it has been seen and it is not wanted. I swap a mosquito buzzing around my ear and wish I could do the same to all the mosquitoes this time of year.

“Let’s do something,” she orders me. I think we are. Clearly, not enough for her. “There must be something for us to do around here.”

A chill runs up my spine. This was a warning sign. Trouble was ahead. A bored Cindy was a danger to all peaceful and good creatures.

Action was required. I stood up, dusting off the dry dirt and leaves from my backside. Without another person in sight, the job to entertain my sister and keep her and all around her from harm became my responsibility.

On my list of chores and things-to-do I found enjoyable were mucking out the barn, pulling weeds, refilling the horse trough, and checking on the chickens. None of these passed Cindy’s criteria for amusement. These were my times, time spent on repetitive tasks so ingrained, I moved through them without thinking, my find free to wander, explore, and revisit books and text books, absorbing and processing the lessons from school and all around me. She found these tasks, in her words, “utterly boring and mundane.” Big words for a little girl in a frilly white and yellow lace dress with sparkling silver shoes, a fashion statement at odds with the farm.

“Want me to push you on the swing?” The rubber spare tire swing hung sadly from the old pully pole on the barn.

“Nah, did that yesterday.”

“You seemed to enjoy it.”

“Yeah, but that was yesterday. It’s boring now.”

“We could go down to the pond and skip rocks.”

“It’s too far.”

“It’s a three minute walk.”

“I said it was too far.” (more…)

Too Big for the Bike

The following was inspired from the prompt, “The Novice.”

Child bicycle with training wheels and flowers in the spokesHe was too big for the bike. Knees splayed awkwardly outwards, feet slipping off the pedals, hunched over the handle bars determined to hang on, the bike pitched from side to side, training wheels bent up so far, they didn’t touch the ground. It was time. Time for the training wheels to come off. Time for the big boy to ride a big boy bike.

It was two years past the growth spurt that should have graduated him up from his purple and pink bike, red plastic ribbons hanging in a tattered shower from the ends of the white handle grips, purple metal showing through the torn plastic. The plastic flowers, once carefully woven in and out of the wheel spokes, were bend and faded, flapping against the support bars with every pass.

His face puffed fiery patches across his pale cheeks as he struggled for speed along the long driveway. He leaned into the curve of the circular drive and a training wheel grabbed the pavement. He lost control and went down hard. Tears welled up but he gritted his teeth, rose up, and straightened himself and the bike.

“Kiddo,” I called as gently and evenly as I could. “Those wheels are hurting more than helping.” I stayed still on the path to the house, toes even with the edge of the pavement. It was the furthest away he allowed me to be, watching his every movement. “Maybe it’s time to take them off.”

His head whipped around and his grip turned white on the handle bars.

“No!” He twisted the bike around and stomped toward me. “I need the wheels!”

“Looks like they are getting in your way.”

We looked down at the training wheels, little tread left on them. He’d insisted that the wheels remain tightened as an extra braking system, keeping his speed under control, and his fear. Two years of abuse had locked up the nuts rather than loosened them. The tread was worn in even patches, making the wheels blocks not circles. The metal extension brackets were pointed more to the sky than the ground, twisted and scarred from too many crashes. (more…)

Round-Robin: The Smell was Familiar I

The following is one of the prompts created by members of Writers in the Grove in response to Prompt: Round-Robin Writing in a Group.

Bev: The smell was familiar and touched a deep place in my heart. It was clear long before we saw it. The scent of the sea is unmistakable, but not apparent at all until you get up and over the ridge of mountains that shield the sight, sound, and scent of the ocean from the valley. We only made the trip once a year but this time it had been five years and anticipation of the wonders of the seashore.

Susan: The kids in the backseat were antsy and loud. Little Billy was especially vocal because he had been too little to remember the trip the last time. Now he was wiggling around in his car seat, causing Emma to upend her can of soda and splash Evie with orange creme all over her Sunday dress. Undaunted, I pulled the car over and pulled each kid out. All lined up against the car, I scrubbed and blotted and straightened each one until we were ready to continue on the journey.

The light sea breeze was calling. The destination close. The kids were all back into their places as I started the car.

Mary: What would they do now? We had a long drive ahead of us. Could we get there safe and sound? The kids fell asleep but I knew I’d better stay awake. It would be a long time until we got to the beach.

DK: The night before had been a mas rush to find the motel, switch rooms when the toilet didn’t work, eat a hurried snack, shower, and tumble into bed. We were all exhausted. Traveling with four kids under the age of ten was harder than I remembered. I had hidden the option for a sleep over back in the recesses of my mind, but now was so thankful that I had packed a spare bag with extra clothes and essentials.

Six AM. Bill was first to wake, screaming “Momma! Momma! I can see the ocean!” He jumped up and down on the bed waking all his siblings.

Lorelle: I was surprised at the speed the children took to get dressed and out of the motel. Back home, it could take 45 minutes to get most of them up, showed, dressed, and off to school This morning, it was accomplished at whirlwind speeds in under five minutes.

Pails, plastic shovels, umbrellas, sun lotion, towels, sun hats, all flew in wild semi-synchronous order onto bodies as if pulled in with rare earth magnets. We all traipsed down the path to the beach below, colorful and noisy, my parade of ducklings.

The beach didn’t stand a chance. The kids tore into it like it was under construction, a demolition derby of digging, building, tearing down, and rebuilding. By nightfall, the tide would come in and erase their day of labor, but for now, they were master builders and architects.

The supervisor of the anarchy, I sat under one of the umbrellas and read, until my cell phone alarm reminded me it was time for another dousing of sun lotion on the precious skin of my ducklings.

By evening, the worn out tykes were quick to shower off sandy warm bodies and drift contented off to sleep. I smiled at them as I stepped outside and closed the door. Finally alone.

Cheri: This was my time, and thanks to the bottle of brandy I had thrown into my bag, I could sit down and let myself relax. It occurred to me that my parents had probably felt the same way at one point. After dealing with all of us kids, they would tuck us in and retire to a quiet place in order to spend a little time alone with each other, probably talking about the day. But here I sat, alone, with no one to reflect with other than my brandy and the sound of the ocean. Being alone is hard, and I often wonder how I arrived here, solitary, with no one to share the events of the day. Of course, it wasn’t anyone’s fault. It just happened. Circumstances beyond my control. But it doesn’t make the loneliness any less painful.

DSO: Death of a spouse is not an easy thing. Who am I supposed to be angry at? Steve? God? The drunk driver? His boss for demanding he go that night? Am I jealous because he is safe now and I am left here with the issues of life to deal with? He was always telling me brandy can never be a good friend because it dulls the zest for life that helps make good decisions.