Father Christmas

This was part of an exercise designed such that you would write about children.

Unfortunately I have very limited experience with children and apparently it showed. My lack of understanding was about the level that children think at.

From my perspective a child has reasonably little awareness of a world outside of their head. My limited understanding stemmed from the way parents treat children.

Parents insist upon holding a child’s hand (because children have no idea an oncoming car can kill them).

Parents tend to keep children close to them (because children can’t survive alone).

Parents escort children everywhere (because children are unable to do anything by themselves).

So I had the impression that prior to a certain age a child’s perspective was skewed by what was inside the child’s head.

The feedback I received was that the story was unrealistic as the child would not be this naïve.

That shows how little I know.

This underlines the idea that you should try to write about things that you know – or do your research well.

After this I’ve pretty well decided that using children as characters is not going to be something that I’m great at. So probably has no future in the things that I write.

The following therefore is probably only of interest in terms of an example of what not to do.

Story

“Can I have a puppy Mummy? Can I?  I want a puppy because I don’t have a puppy”.

“Timmy be quiet can’t you see I’m talking?”

Mummy was talking very loud.  Mummy is loud if I am naughty.  I think the man must have been naughty.  I hid behind Mummy’s legs.

Mummy was very upset –the back of her hand went white.  My hand hurts when she holds it so tightly.

“Mummy, Mummy let go, I want to play”.

I looked down at my new shoes.  The little lights in the sides came on as I was walking.  I was stamping my shoes and trying to see the lights come on.

I wondered if the strange man had sweeties.  “Hello” I said from behind Mummy’s legs.

The man bent down and looked at me.  He was very dirty, he had strange-looking hair with leaves in it.

“Mummy he smells funny”

Mummy pulled my hand suddenly – it really hurt – I was crying.  Mummy was talking very loud now.

The man had Mummy’s handbag.  Perhaps he wanted to buy me presents?  Sometimes Mummy buys me presents when she has that bag.

Mummy said that Father Christmas would come with presents. Perhaps this man was Father Christmas? He had a wrinkly hairy face.

“Mummy has Father Christmas got me a present?”

“Timmy if you don’t shut up I’ll give you a thick ear, understand?”

Mummy took me to see Father Christmas before; he wasn’t like this Father Christmas.  When I went to see Father Christmas before he was shiny, red and happy, he didn’t smell like this man.

I saw another Father Christmas in a shop today.  Maybe there are lots of Father Christmas’s?  Perhaps I get more presents if there are lots of Father Christmas’s?

“I want a present, I want a present”.

Mummy turned around and smacked me.  I started crying.  I felt hot and tired

Mummy was very angry now; she was really shouting – her arm had gone stiff and my hand was really hurting.

People were standing still watching me.  They must have known that I was with Father Christmas.

It was very quiet now.  Mummy was not shouting.  A shiny car was there; it was white and had funny lights.

The lights on my shoes are red, these lights were blue, they were very high, I watched them go round and round.

A really big man was talking to Mummy.  He had very dark clothes on; he was scary.  He had a shiny belt on; I was watching the long stick on that belt.  Billy has a stick like that; he got it for his birthday.  I don’t think I could have played with this stick.  Billy has a puppy, it was all floppy and sleepy – I don’t think Father Christmas had my puppy.

The big man put Father Christmas in his shiny car.

“Mummy can I go with Father Christmas?”

“NO Timmy you can’t”.

Mummy didn’t have hold of my hand now. I jumped in next to Father Christmas.

“Father Christmas, can I have a puppy?”

 

 

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Author: Phil Maud

Keen on privacy and IT Security. A volunteer counsellor. I use blogging to improve my writing.

2 thoughts on “Father Christmas”

  1. Hahaha, my experience with children is rather limited too, Phil, so you’re not alone there!!

    I think whether this story rings true as being “realistic” for a child’s internal narrative largely depends on how old the child in question is – perhaps this wouldn’t work if the narrator was 9 or 10 years old, but I could see it working as a 2-3 year old. This is doubly true in the sense that 2-3 year olds don’t have a firm grasp of the communication skills to write a piece like this – as best we can tell, this *is* what goes on inside their heads (and, really, no one can tell you that you’re “wrong” and that a child wouldn’t think like that, because how would they know?).

    Most of my knowledge about the cognitive processes of children comes from my psych degree, but even that was some years ago now. The only other resource I can think of is perhaps Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, have you read it? The narrator was a 9 year old (? ish, memory is failing me) boy, and I think he did a really good job of maintaining the balance between childlike naivete and insight.

    Great work as always, thank you for sharing! 🙂

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    1. Hey, great to hear from you as always, and thanks for the book recommendation. Noting that and will get it. Best kids-orientated one I read recently was for counselling it’s called “Stick Up For Yourself” by Gershen Kaufman, Lev Raphael and Pamela Espeland. https://www.amazon.co.uk//gp/offer-listing/061365000X/sr=/qid=/?condition=used&tag=bookfinder-test-a-21. It is well recommended if you have any space between all that reading and blogging.

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