“A child experiences things from his true self (creatively) and not from his theoretical self (dutifully), i.e.: the self he thinks he ought to be.” – Brenda Ueland
A child’s imagination is a powerful thing. It’s raw, undisciplined, and fierce. There’s an innocence within a child’s mind that doesn’t hold back or worry about how they should be thinking. My son, who has created countless video games, board and card games, and short stories all before he was 10 years old, simply amazes me. Now that he’s a teenager, he uses software to bring them to life. And because of his drive and creativity, I believe he will become a great game designer.
In this chapter, Ueland urges us to write like a child. She recommends we write about a childhood memory and remember how it felt to be there. Ueland explains that an older person writes from not only their imagination but from their ego and conscious as well. Adults are afraid to write honest details because we’re afraid someone will judge us, or we don’t want to look bad. The exercise is to write about a childhood memory, and although I don’t have full stories with lots of details, one thing tops the list.
When my parents separated, my brother and I spent most weekends at our grandparent’s house. On Saturdays, grandma would clean the house and play or make crafts with us. My grandpa usually remodeled something or worked in the yard.
As great as Saturdays were, Sundays were the best. They had the same routine, but Sundays started in a very special way. My grandparents let me sleep in, sometimes until 10 o’clock, and when I awoke I knew I had a delicious treat awaiting me.
Almost every Sunday my grandparents would make me a waffle for breakfast. There was nothing special about the smell, but it tasted amazing. They would butter the round waffle, which took up the entire plate, and each little square was filled with syrup. They added a sliced peach for each quarter and sprinkled confectioner’s sugar all over it. It was so sweet and so comforting. And I was so hungry.
I still eat my waffles exactly that way. I have never tried any other fruit and get upset if we’re out of confectioner’s sugar. I will not touch a pancake. I realized this year, I had never made my son pancakes. I found myself almost banning pancakes because of my ties to waffles. Strange as it may be, I’ll probably never eat a pancake, but I do cook them now. Our memories can shape us into someone unexpected and cause us to do crazy things.
Another lesson Ueland addresses is that we shape our children. If you want them to be great, you must be great. If you want them to be a musician, you must practice music. If you want them to believe in themselves, we must believe in ourselves. We set the example.
Now, it’s your turn. Think back and try to write about a childhood memory from a child’s perspective, not an adult’s. Try to remember what you were going through or feeling – it may be therapeutic to your soul.
For fun, here’s a recipe for waffles. Maybe you can add your own fruit or make them special for your family!