By Milli Thornton
A MEMORY from when my daughter was a toddler (she’s now almost 28) kept calling to me. For some reason, I had scribbled it into the notebook I keep next to me for capturing ideas to blog about. I have several blogs and it was definitely recorded in the section for the FoW Blog. But what did this memory have to do with writing? I had to write this post to figure it out.
When my daughter Bonnie was about two years old I lived with my former husband, Bonnie and her jillions of stuffed animals in a third-floor apartment in Dee Why, a suburb on the north shore of Sydney, Australia. I transformed our balcony into a play area, putting mesh along the railing so she couldn’t squeeze through. I set up her pink plastic table and chairs and moved a bunch of her toys out there, even devoting almost an entire plastic bookcase to things she could play with. You know, toys. Identifiable children’s items.
Even though she played with her tea set, carried around her Mousie and pulled all the toys off the shelves into more accessible piles, what she loved best, of course, was the more adult items. She would use my empty watering can to “water” the balcony plants (adorable to watch) and she claimed a big empty cardboard box from our previous moving day to set up her own house.
By far her most favorite thing was supposed to be off-limits. Mummy’s shoes. But not to stagger around in like other little girls. While I was in the kitchen cleaning up, she would drag various shoes out of my closet, carry them to the balcony and then fling them over the railing to the grass below.
(Good thing hardly anyone from the apartment building ever went out there or they’d have been clobbered from above.)
Talk about total power. She would watch in fascination through the mesh as I skulked downstairs to gather my shoes from the communal lawn, hoping no one would see me and think I was some kind of shoe-dropping madwoman.
Eventually, she seemed to outgrow her shoe fetish. The warmer weather had come and I set up her wading pool on the balcony. She loved it. And appeared to understand how to use it only in the most traditional fashion, wading or sitting in it and taking her plastic pool toys in with her.
Until the day she toddled inside with a big grin on her face, saying, “Pooooor Mummy!” I went immediately to the balcony to see why I was to be pitied. There was my favorite pair of high heels taking a dip in the wading pool on a hot summer’s afternoon. The best, most comfortable heels I’d ever found. The ones I wore to my part-time job. The ones I wanted to keep forever.
I tried to be angry but “Pooooor Mummy!” and the devilish grin from a little cherub with blonde curls just cracked me up.
I now understand how much this scene from my daughter’s childhood was like becoming a writer. Ever since the age of 13, I’d had bursts of trying to become a writer . . . but they had always faded out. When I was 39, something a friend said caused me to be possessed by material that demanded to be written so, obediently, I wrote my book. And then there was no looking back. I had to make sure my book had a life of its own.
Exactly like having my best shoes thrown into a wading pool. The most flattering high heels I’d ever find in my life? Or barefoot and baby steps all the way because my Inner Child has more interesting priorities. . . .
Milli Thornton is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She is owner of the Fear of Writing Online Course, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli blogs at Screenwriting in the Boonies and Milliver’s Travels and coaches writers individually at Writer’s Muse.