Tag Archives: children

When the Cat’s Away, the World Might End

It’s final exam week here at my university and as I sit here and proctor a reading exam, it seemed like a good chance to write some flash fiction. This is dedicated to my sister, whose birthday it is this Friday.

FF188 Sandra Crook

copyright Sandra Crook

“Maybe I should call them.”

“Don’t call. They’ll have a great time home alone. We’re in France. Relax.”

“We should have brought them.”

“It took five years to save enough for us to come. We’d never save enough for all of us. Just go take a shower, get dressed up, and we’ll hit the town.”

She’d scarcely shut the bathroom door when he called internationally.

“Hey Dad,” his eldest said. “The plumber stopped the leak, but it’ll take a week to dry the basement out.”

“Okay. Call the insurance company. And do not tell your mother until we get back.”


A Mother’s Revenge

Happy Mother’s Day, only two days late. This story is fiction and any resemblance to real life is coincidence. This story is not about me, especially since the narrator is female.

I was a terrible kid when I was young. My mother was half-way to sainthood, in that she was as patient as Job and I almost sent her to an early grave.

It wasn’t really that I was bad, I was just . . . creative. Which is why the police brought me home after I chased my friends down the road with a hammer. I tried to explain hammer tag to my parents, but they just grounded me. I didn’t want to be grounded, so I threw all my bedding and clothes out the window. I was planning on running away and wanted a soft place to land when I jumped out my window. My parents never understood the logic behind what I did; they just sighed, put the clothes in the laundry, and then grounded me longer.

It wasn’t until I grew up that I realized how much of a pain I had been to my poor parents.

“I’m sorry for how difficult I was when I was a kid,” I told my mother once, over tea soon after I got pregnant with my first baby.

“Oh, we got through it,” she said with a smile. Then she stopped and leaned in. “I hope you have one just like you.”

“Mom, that’s mean of you,” I said, trying to laugh it off. She just kept smiling and stirred her tea, a look of vengeful triumph in her eyes.

My husband and I soon moved to Papua New Guinea to work with a NGO. We came back once every two years or so and although we spoke on Skype, my mother didn’t really get to know my two girls very well until we moved back again, when my oldest daughter Alice was six and my youngest Emily was four.

“So, how are the girls?” she would ask sometimes in our long-distance chats. “Quite a handful, I’m sure.”

“They’re fine,” I said, but I could tell by her close examination that she was looking for stress lines on my face.

*        *        *

“I’m sure you girls get into trouble all the time, right?” my mother asked. We were back in the States and sitting around the kitchen table with the girls. They looked at each other and shook their heads.

“Well, would you like a snack?” she asked, undeterred. “I have pixy sticks, and Coke to drink.”

“Do you have any carrot sticks?” Alice asked.

“Maybe an apple?” Emily added. My mother pursed her lips and got the snacks.

The next day I caught her trying to teach her granddaughters hammer tag. “This is too dangerous,” Emily said just before I intervened. I shooed them away and they went and sat in the sandbox and pretended they were highway engineers about to build a new bypass.

“I know what you’re doing,” I said. “You’re trying to make they behave badly to get back at me.”

“Are these really your kids?” she asked. “It’s not fair. I had to put up with you and you get two perfect angels.”

“Maybe it’s Trevor’s genes?” I said, referring to my husband.

“No, I’ve talked to his mother and he was a hellion when he was young too,” she said. “It’s just not fair.”

“You just got to accept it. The world isn’t fair.”

“I guess not.”

“Just promise me one thing.”


I leaned in. “Don’t try to teach them hammer tag again.”

She was about to accept, then crossed her arms. “How are you going to know?”

“They’ll tell on you,” I said.

She nodded sadly. “You’re probably right.”

Kid Logic – Friday Fictioneers

Merry Christmas to everyone from the Green-Walled Tower! There is no snow touching its ivy-covered sides since this year has been unseasonably warm where I am, although it is still Christmas inside. I have been surrounded by young children and Christmas themes this weeks: thus, this story.

copyright Bjorn Rudberg

copyright Bjorn Rudberg

Kid Logic

The boys charged up the steps of the old castle, glad to be free of the car.

“The steps are lava!” Jack yelled.

“But they’re green,” Henry said. “They’re like little Christmas trees. Maybe there are tiny people there who decorate them at Christmas.”

“And Santa delivers presents, riding in the Catbus.”

“And then a dragon comes out of the ground and fights the Catbus and the people hide in the Christmas trees.”

“Yeah, they climb inside ornaments and use them for their houses.”

At that moment, Batman ballerina ran between them, crushing innumerable imaginary Christmas trees under her feet.

my little Batman ballerina

my little Batman ballerina


Conversations with Obstinacy

“I can destroy the whole world.”

“Oh yeah?”

“It’s true. If I close my eyes, the world just disappears.

“Only for you.”

“But if I close my eyes, there is no one else. They disappear too.”

“You can still hear them.”

“Not if I put my fingers in my ears.”

“I could spank you. You’d feel that.”

“Then I’d move to a desert island. It would be me and only me, in my own little universe.”

“Just go clean your room like I asked you.”

“I don’t wanna.”

“It would take you five minutes.”

“Too late, I closed my eyes. There is no room anymore.”

What I learned about writing from Cambodian children

If you’ve ever visited Cambodia, you know that the whole country has an entrepreneurial spirit. People offer you rides on their scooters for a price, men sell cut sugarcane, and children mob you selling postcards, handmade crafts, books, and pretty much anything and everything else.

The competition is beyond stiff and you see a whole range of tactics, from super aggressive to friendly. I was the most impressed with the children. The best ones immediately told you their name, asked your name, where you were from, told you facts about your home country, and anything they could to make an impression and develop a rapport. They did it fast too–they had about ten seconds maximum to make you want to buy their products and not the next person’s.

It worked too. I was much more likely to buy something from Jentha who had two brothers and a sister at home and called me by my name and could name the capital of my country, than I was from some random little girl offering me five postcards for a dollar when I already had all the postcards I needed.

I realized that this is a little like fiction, especially short fiction and especially blog fiction. People are more likely to give a novel a chance to develop the plot and characters, but on a blog, people who are clicking around randomly have half a million other blogs to choose from, so why do they choose mine?

The title, of course, is important to draw people in, but also the first paragraph. With blog writing, the currency is not money, but time, and I know for myself, it is often the first paragraph, that part that shows up in the summary, that determines if I’m going to read more or not.

Of course, there is another aspect. For the children this process is all about selling. They learn the names of perhaps hundreds of tourists a day and probably forget them almost instantly, but it was also easy to tell those who were only after the money and those who were also truly friendly and engaging. Blogging is not just selling our blogs, it’s also about building relationships. We should be engaging and attractive, but we also have to be honest. People are attracted to authenticity and can tell if it’s not there.

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