This event World Book Day, which kind of passed me by in my little grey warehouse, brought out the worst and better than that in me.
My little George came home and informed us he had to write a story for school. His teacher had supplied him with a small booklet of paper (four sides of lined paper a little less than two sides of A4) on which to create this tale. When he told us, he seemed so eager and I become equally eager for him to get started.
When George told us, it was late on Monday and we couldn’t start that night. He was very disappointed. But we, George, who is six, and I, started the project on Tuesday evening. And we got off to a good start. I encouraged George to devise characters for his story, and he dictated the first paragraph.
However, as time went on George’s mind began to meander through the endless possibilities of a creative thinking. He dreamed of trains and made a rocket out of his pencil. And that’s just to cite two examples. He would write a word, or a letter or two, and his attention would go else where. And each time he drifted away, I could hear all the criticisms of my childhood spit from my lips.
This exercise came at the end of a day I felt had gone badly wrong for me, and subsequently everything I did went wrong: I made pancakes for George, and melted the spatular, for example. Life wasn’t very pleasant at that moment and writing for George wasn’t fun at all. We abandoned the project for that night with a big hug and went up stairs to play instead.
George had spent an hour on his work: thinking up a title and writing it at the top of the front page; creating three characters for his story; dictating a paragraph and writing down the best part of it. When later I explained to his mum what George had done, I thought, ‘Actually, he’s done splendidly!’
On the way home I kicked myself for being a miserly muppet and hatched a plan for the next day…
Over the last month or so I’ve been working on a few of my short stories. These I intend to enter for a competition later this year. So, I took one with me and we sat in the kitchen on Wednesday evening, side by side, working on our stories. George cracked on with his with gusto, finishing off the paragraph from the previous day, dictating the final part of his tale, drawing the characters in action (telling the story in pictures), writing the story out, and signing his name on the back.
He was proud as punch to have finished. Proud to put it in his reading bag to take to school the next day. And I was so proud of him for sticking with it, not being put off by grumpy dad and producing a great piece of work.
All in all it was a happy World Book Day for us!