Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Boys are Freaking Insane

Alright, so it's eleven at night, and I'm back after packing up a campsite, paddling twelve miles (with four portages) (and three kids) and driving seven hours. I'm dirty, smelly and my house is littered with camping debris.

Still. Must post.

Given my short attention span and limited brain activity, I'm going to talk briefly about boys (because boys are fun to talk about). Now any of you who happen to follow me on twitter will have some background regarding the many (and infinitely crazy) exploits of my son, Leo. When he was nine months old he climbed to the top of the refrigerator. When he was two, he climbed to the top of the garage. He is intensely curious, creatively out of bounds and absolutely knows no fear.

He is one of the main reasons why many of my characters are boys. He is the reason why I take particular delight with my boy characters. This is not to knock my daughters (because they freaking rock) but I was completely unprepared for the roller-coaster ride that defines raising a son.

Which brings me to book making.

I'm writing a new book, tentatively titled Witless Ned and the Speaking Stones. It started with a story I told to my son while we were hiking through a thick, humid forest in Virginia and I needed to keep him going. I asked him what should happen next, and he told me - and his plot points were like his behavior at home: unexpected, out-of-bounds and utterly, utterly wild. Half the things he insisted that Ned would do I regarded with some skepticim. No boy would do that, I said. Oh, but he would, Leo insisted fervently. And many of those things, Leo did. Later. This summer. With gusto. Which is why I am only slightly insane right now. Which is why I am writing the book.

So. As I mentioned. We were camping. Near to our campsite was a latrine - a deep pit, dug by an earnest young park ranger, and about halfway full of - well, you know what it was full of. My son, after using the latrine, accidentally dropped the hand sanitizer deep down into the dark pit. It rested on a pile of slowly decomposing human excrement.

Now, do you remember that scene in Slumdog Millionaire, when the little boy jumps into the gigantic pile of poo after getting stuck in the latrine while trying to get an autograph from his hero? Here's the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIrehaK5Jks And remember how we all watched with utter incredulity. No way, we thought, would any little kid jump into a vat of crap for something as silly as an autograph.

My little son, in hopes of retrieving a little bottle of Purel, climbed into the toilet, hooked his arm around the seat, and lowered himself down into its skanky, putrid depths.

When I became a parent, did it ever occur to me that I would one day be scrubbing layers of the poo of strangers off the feet, ankles, shins and knees of my blue-eyed, cherubic little boy? No, ladies and gentlemen. No I did not. Now that I am a writer, will this moment of boyish fearlessness, innocence of consequence and wild abandon one day show up in one of my stories?

Ladies and gentlemen, you can count on it. 

3 comments:

LM Preston said...

Oh, this is priceless. I too have boys (2-boys and 2-girls) but have modeled my boy characters loosely to my sons. They tend to give great material.

E. Kristin Anderson said...

Holy crap. I feel like I need a shower now. Thanks, Kelly. :P

Also, I am jealous that you have such an awesome muse right at your fingertips. Kari, too, regales me with stories of her mischievous children. It seems like the secret to being a writer is to make babies. True or false?

Also, poo is gross. *shudder*

kellybarnhill said...

Yes, poo is gross. A pile of poo at the bottom of a deep, dark pit? *collapses* Oh, god, guys, fer serious I think I'm scarred for life.

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