Category Archives: early childhood

For A Day #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story inspired by the idea, “for a day.” It doesn’t need to be never-ending, like me forgetting to update a prompt. What is so special about the action, person, or object experienced for a day? Go where the prompt leads!

In the post, Charli mentions how difficult it is to be “a transitional generation … a cutting from one’s roots.” It made me think of my mum, and my dad too I guess, who grew up in the country and moved to the suburbs. Like Charli’s children, and unlike most of my cousins, my mum’s children (me and my siblings) were the first generation to grow up in the suburbs. While few of us returned to the country permanently, I think the love for it remains in our veins and we appreciate opportunities we have of visiting.

Charli says, “If you had a day to spend with an icon of your past what would that be?”

That’s a tough one. I’m probably harsh when I think there’s not much in my childhood I’d like to return to. I can’t think of much that’s an icon. If anything is, perhaps it’s the red cliffs of the peninsula where I spent most of my childhood days. Captain Cook saw the cliffs as he sailed up the east coast of Australia (before it was called Australia). Prior to Europeans calling the area Redcliffe, it was known as Kau-in-Kau-in, which means Blood-Blood (red-like blood) by the Ningy Ningy people, the original inhabitants and custodians of the area.

However, perhaps as I said that the love of country still runs through our veins, I should return to my first six years which were lived on a farm. In my memory, I was the best chicken catcher and probably egg collector. I was also good at spotting snakes. I was probably a bit mischievous and even a little destructive (driven by curiosity as I recall) so a bit of a nuisance at times. Maybe no more than my other siblings though.

One day that stands out in my memory was my third birthday. It may not have been the actual day, but it was close to it.

For my birthday, I received a plastic boat and a knitted rabbit that my mother had spent hours making for me. I don’t remember what happened to the bunny, but I may have operated on it or changed its appearance, as I did with many toys, at some stage. Sadly, however, I do remember what happened to the plastic boat.

Living on a farm, it was not unusual for a fire to be lit to burn “stuff”. I can’t remember what was being burned at the time. I do remember being mesmerised by the flames and wondering what would happen to my boat if I threw it in the fire. (What kind of a child thinks like that?) My curiosity overwhelmed me, and I sought the answer to my question. I saw the flames find my beautiful bright red, blue and yellow boat and turn its colours to black. I watched as the boat became distorted, grotesque even, and shrivelled into almost nothing. My curiosity satisfied; I was happy.

Needless to say, my parents were not. And who could blame them? We didn’t have a lot and they would have gone without something to buy me that boat.

I consider that event to be the day my curiosity died. Further experimentation was discouraged, and at school, questions weren’t encouraged. We were told what was important for us to know. While my parents were very much in favour of education, it was more of the ‘fill the empty cup’ variety than the ‘draw out’ type.

My curiosity remained dormant for many years. (Though it can’t have been entirely so, as I remember changing the hairstyles of various dolls ‘to see what they looked like’ over the years.)

I remember it being reawakened by a plastic helicopter owned by my two-year-old son. No, I didn’t throw it in the fire or destroy it by any other means. I was fascinated by its propellor that moved around in a circle and up and down at the same time. I was desperate to take it apart to see how it worked. I resisted the urge. However, the feelings of curiosity I had so long forgotten came flooding back. I spent a lot of time studying it, attempting to figure out how it worked.

I am now passionate about encouraging curiosity in young children and reassuring young parents that their children’s curiosity is not ‘naughtiness’ but a search for answers and a need to know how things work. If the situation is neither dangerous (nor destructive), there is often no harm in letting them find their own answers to the questions.

I guess if I could go back to that one day, I’d find another way of satisfying my curiosity while avoiding destruction and my parents’ displeasure. They didn’t have and couldn’t afford much, but they bought me a boat. To show my thanks, I destroyed it. You can hardly blame them for being cross. Life was difficult and there was enough heartbreak without a small child’s needless destruction. They were, after all, coming from a place of love and doing the best they could. No one can expect more than that of anyone.

After that long, convoluted path, Charli does say to go where the prompt leads, I must now try to weave those thoughts together into a flash fiction. Let’s see how I go.

The Blue Bunny

By the light of a kerosine lamp, when the day’s chores were done and the house was quiet as the children gave in to sleep, but only after a one-millionth drink of water and a final trip to the outside dunny in the cool night air, she knitted a blue bunny for her third child’s third birthday. A baby slept in the cot beside her, and another stirred within her. It took a basketful of creativity and a pinch of magic to feed the growing brood, but stitched with love, a child’s gift was creativity of a different kind.

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Stone-stacking #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features stone-stacking. How does the activity fit into a story? Who is involved? What is the tone? Do the stones have special meaning? Go where the prompt leads!

I tried all week to find a fitting ending to my story beginning but couldn’t get anything I was hoping for to fit. I have ended up with ninety-nine though, so I hope it works, at least a little.

Stacking Stones

Active children were everywhere — throwing, skipping, climbing, swinging, laughing, playing. But over in the garden, on the gravel path, one child was stacking stones.

“What’s he doing?” a visiting teacher asked.

“Jack? Counting stones. He’s been doing it for days now. At the end of playtime, he tells me how many he stacked.”

“Why?”

His teacher shrugged. “He likes counting, I guess.”

“Is he okay, I mean, you know —”

“Oh, yes. He’s completely fine. He just wants to see how high he can count.”

“How high has he got?”

“Twelve.”

“How far does he want to get?”

“Ninety-nine.”

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Memorials, including mine, can be read at the Carrot Ranch.

Zipper Obsession #99WordStories

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about zippers. What are the zippers for? What challenges do they present to the story? Go where the prompt leads!

This is my response. I hope you enjoy it.

Zipper Obsession

Jayden was obsessed with zippers almost from birth. The swish of a zipper always turned tears to laughter.

When a toddler, Jayden’s fascination with interlocking teeth equalled the zip-zip-swish. Zippered items were treasured more than any store-bought toys.

When grandparents visited, Jayden targeted Grandma’s handbag. Zip. Zip …

“Is that boy still obsessed with zippers?” said Grandpa. “Has he been tested yet?”

“It’s just a phase,” said Dad.

“Humph,” said Grandpa, opening his Gladstone bag. Swhooosh.

Jayden stopped. What was that?

Grandpa closed the bag. Blonk.

Swhooosh; blonk. Swhoosh; blonk.

Jayden abandoned Grandma’s bag for Grandpa’s.

Zipper phase zipped.

Thank you blog post

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Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Anxiety can be read at the Carrot Ranch here.

The Littlest Goat #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes the littlest Christmas goat. Who does the goat belong to? What is happening? Go where the prompt leads!

When I thought of goats, children and stories, I thought of one of my least favourite children’s stories: The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids. I’ve written about it before, explained why I disliked it, and even wrote another flash fiction in response to one of Charli’s prompts about it.

There was nothing else for it. I had to attack it again in another way, hoping to put it in a more positive light. I hope you like it.

The Littlest Goat

“You’re too little.”

The all-too-familiar chorus stung but he determined to show them size didn’t matter; not the way they thought.

Before long, opportunity came knocking.

The others were too stupid to check before opening the door, too slow to escape the intruder and too big to hide. The littlest one watched from the grandfather clock as the wolf devoured them one by one.

When Mother returned from Christmas shopping, the littlest goat told all. Together, they found the greedy wolf and rescued his brothers.

The littlest goat showed that being clever, quick and brave beat size any day.

Thank you blog post

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Flight Cancelled #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write about a canceled flight. Where was the flight headed? Who does it impact and why? How does a protagonist handle the situation? Go where the prompt leads!

Due to our Covid-19 lockdowns and border restrictions, it’s a couple of years now since I took a flight anywhere. Even flights of the imagination have been few and far between as a variety of factors have colluded to suppress my creativity as well. However, I couldn’t resist a prompt about flight.

I’ve always thought how wonderful it would be to be a bird and fly above the earth and see it in all its beauty. Looking down on the patchwork quilt from a plane’s window gives me joy and a sense of wonder. How much greater it would be to fly like a bird. I guess other forms of flight would give an experience closer to that of a bird, but I haven’t tried any of those yet (and am unlikely to).

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach is one of my favourite books. I have read it numerous times and love the description of flight and the exhilaration it brings to Jonathan.

I know I’m not the only one to be fascinated by flight. Many children wish they could fly like birds and their superheroes. That’s where I’ve gone with my response to Charli’s prompt this time. I hope you enjoy it.

Flight Cancelled

Heron balanced on one leg on the bare tree branch above the water. He spread his wings and stretched his neck to face the breeze. He revelled in the freedom of flight even before his feet lifted from their base — the exultation of gliding through the thermals. Superhero Heron — like his namesake — was ready for take-off.

‘Heron! Heron! Get down. This instant.’

‘I am. I’m flying down.’

‘No. You are using the same ladder you used to get up.’

‘You called me Heron, so I can fly.’

‘You will not fly today. This flight is cancelled. You are grounded.’

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Oh, and before you go, you might like to watch a fun video of a picture book by Mo Willems called Today I Will Fly. I love it. It’s so clever, especially the ending. Unfortunately, I can’t share it here but you can follow the link to watch.

Grandpa’s Tool Shed #flashfiction

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write about tools. Whose tools are they and how do they fit into the story? What kind of tools? Go where the prompt leads!

Charli, of course wrote about writer’s tools and provided a multitude of links to great resources for learning about them. She also wrote about tools for dealing with snow, but I can only imagine using them. My experience with snow is very limited.

I drew upon my memories of childhood for my response. I hope you like it.

Grandpa’s Tool Shed

Jacob worked tirelessly alongside Grandpa. He loved the sweet scent of sawdust curls and the heady smell of fresh paint. He loved that ash from Grandpa’s cigarette fell unchecked into the shavings. He especially liked using Grandpa’s real tools. The plastic bench at Kindy was only a toy.

Jacob’s visits decreased but Grandpa never forgot. He left the house, the shed and all his tools to Jacob. Standing in the dark empty shed, Jacob tried to conjure the smells of Grandpa. There was nothing else to do. He rolled up his sleeves and started planing sawdust curls — in memory.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.