Sunday, February 7, 2010

Writing with Kids

copyright 2010, aaron paul lazar

On MB4 we’ve written hundreds of articles about the craft of writing, the world of publishing, the aching sense of loneliness we sometimes endure as solitary artists, and so many more writing life topics… But I don’t think we’ve ever written about children and their heads-full-of-stories.

I’m going to admit something to you. I’m an old fuddy duddy. At least when it comes to kids and their upbringing. If you’ve read any of my “slice of life” articles where I share stories about my grandkids, you already know that I believe kids should be outside, playing. Simply playing. They should be using their imaginations, climbing trees, picking wild blackberries, throwing balls, and running. Lots of running is important.  

My childhood was full of those activities and more. I was lucky enough to have an old chestnut gelding, and we roamed the woods and fields alone and with friends for most of my young years.

So, here it is: winter 2010, we STILL have no snow to frolic in, and I see my grandsons playing this godawful Xbox 360 (or whatever the heck it’s called!). So, I get crazy. I hate seeing them pretending to drive, bomb, kick, hit, stab or whatever it is those stupid games allow them to do. I REALLY hate it. But they aren’t mine to raise (not 100%, anyway, LOL) and I have to tolerate some of the stuff that comes with their generation.

This week, however, I decided to lure them away with the idea of making a book together. Julian helped me with chapter 1 and part of chapter 2; Gordie took over midway through chapter 2, and then it snowballed. I typed and helped them by asking questions like, “and what did they see in the green puddle?” and “what did the billy goat say to the boy?” etc. Each boy wanted to write a chapter every night. We got up to chapter four, and then they had to leave to go to their daddy’s house. We’ll add more next week when they come back. They drew pictures on the computer, and we printed them out to use in our “book.” We made four copies of it for various members of the family, and they erupted in peals of laughter every time a new victim read the story.

I can’t tell you how much fun it was, but thought for a lark I’d share some of our unedited creations below. Now, if we were writing this for a real storybook, I might have jumped in more and suggested some funny twists. But really, it was funny enough to see what came out of their little boy minds. I even left in all the exclamation marks that I HAD to include because of how they yelled out the sentences with such excitement on their faces. ;o) I had a blast, and hope you’ll get a kick out of it, too.

Billy and His Friends, by Julian and Gordon Martin

Chapter One

Billy was walking down the street one day. He saw a green puddle, and he jumped in it! The puddle went all the way to Chinatown. Billy got hungry, and ate all of the eggrolls in Chinatown, ‘cause he was so hungry!

His tummy got so big, it was as big as a pumpkin house. Then he got very sleepy, and fell asleep in the grass on the side of the road.

A billy goat woke him up and said, “Will you be my friend, Billy?”

Billy said, “Sure! But what’s your name?”

“My name is Billy Goat Filly.”

“We have the same name!”

“Yes, but you can call me Billy Goat.”

Along came a brown horse, named Connie. She nickered and stood beside them. On her head was a horsefly named Goofy. Goofy had a very large nose, and she honked loudly when she blew it.

“Honk! Honk!” said Goofy.

“Do you have a cold, Goofy?” asked Billy.

Goofy said, “No, it’s just my big nose.”

Billy and Billy Goat wanted a ride on Connie’s back. Billy asked, “Can we have a ride on you?”

Connie said, “No goat is going to ride me. Billy Goat is too big. But you can have a ride, Billy.”

Billy hopped on her back and they cantered away to the land of giant gumdrops that looked like hills. Purple, orange, yellow, green, pink, and red candies glowed at night. Billy ate so much candy, he got a tummy ache. The other animals helped him with his stomachache by giving him Tums and rubbing lavender, ginger, and peppermint oils on him.

They traveled a long purple road through the candy forest to the land of teensy tiny babies. Babies crawled everywhere, crying “Mama!” and “Papa!” and “Daddy!” and “Gordie!” and “Gramma!” and “Julian!” 

Chapter Two

Billy, Billy Goat, Connie, and Goofy, all made bottles for the babies with strawberry milk inside. The babies drank it for nineteen hours. Then they slept for a long time.

Billy got back on Connie, and Goofy landed on Billy Goat for a ride. They headed across the river to the land of the blue herons. One hundred herons were flying above them and they went down and landed on a blue pond with fish inside and they ate the fish, because they love fish! 

Billy, Connie, Goofy, and Billy Goat, went on a purple boat that was really super big! It had a living room, bedroom, kitchen, dining room, and robots in it! And sometimes the silly robots danced on the deck! They sang “Chaka WEE!” and “Mmm mmm MMM mmm” and “Tikka weowww.” Suddenly, they all looked up and saw giant yellow birds flying down, trying to get the robots into the water because they were trying to hurt the people and animals on the boat!

The animals and Billy tried to swim to shore, because the boat was sinking! They almost made it to beach, then the huge wave pushed them onto the sand.

Chapter Three

When they all reached the shore, a big wave came and pushed them into a tree. They thought it tickled! It was so big, it pushed them up to the leaves! They took all of the other trees, cut them up, and made a big treehouse so they could live there!

They made swings so they could jump in the water and swim! Even Connie swam, with Goofy flying in circles over their heads to make them spin around and get dizzy. When they were hungry, they swam to shore and ran to MacDonalds, because they were SO hungry, they wanted to eat fries and hamburgers. They wanted to drink Mountain Dew, but a big angel came down from the sky and said, “Do not drink the Mountain Dew, it is full of caffeine! And it’s not good for children.” They listened, but they didn’t want to listen, so they secretly drank the Mountain Dew.

Then, they were WILD from the caffeine. So wild, they accidentally ran into the angel, and knocked her down! They helped her by giving her Mountain Dew to drink, and now SHE was wild! She flew around in crazy circles, fast as an airplane speed limit.

They punched themselves into the sky and landed at Chuckie Cheeses, where they played video games. Connie didn’t have fingers, she had hooves, so she used her teeth to play the games. Billy played the shooting game, and he got a million trillion billion tickets. Then, they got homesick, and wanted to go back to their treehouse.

When the got home, they found Santa Claus in their treehouse!

Billy said, “Santa!” and he hugged him.

Santa said, “Billy! I need your help! I have a problem!”

Billy Goat, Connie, and Goofy asked, “What is it?”

Santa said, “I can’t figure out what present goes to who!”

The Angel said, “to whom!” (okay, so I added this line… hee hee)

They all laughed.

Santa sat down in the corner and cried. He was so tired and sleepy. He fell fast asleep.

While he was sleeping, they all took the presents and opened them and kept them.

Chapter Four

After Santa slept for ten million hours, a hedgehog came into the tree house and yelled, “Santa! Santa! Santa!” Santa didn’t wake up.

Then a second hedgehog came in and yelled, “Billy! Billy! Billy!” Billy was too busy playing with the stolen presents.

Then a third hedgehog came in and yelled, “ARRRRRRRR! Why did you steal from Santa? Now all the children won’t get their presents!”

Billy felt really bad, and re-wrapped all the presents and put them back in Santa’s sack. Then Connie said, “Let’s help Santa figure out who gets what presents.”

Billy said, “Okay!”

After Santa flew off in his sleigh with his new list and all his presents and reindeer, the four friends hopped down from the tree and decided to go to South America. They took a plane and said to the pilot, “We want to drive this plane.”

So, they pushed the pedals and Billy Goat Filly steered the plane. When they landed, they heard a big CRACK! The airplane cracked and a wing fell off. But they were all right.

They saw a giant snake trying to eat them. Billy Goat Filly stomped as hard as he could on the snake and it hurt a LOT. The snake was so scared, his tail fell off. Then a BIGGER snake came and he said, “Hey, Ding Dong, Billy Goat Filly! Ding Dong! Ding Dong! Ding Dong! Bing Bing!”

Billy said, “I’ll give you lollypops if you snakes go away.”

The snakes said, “Okay. We love lollypops.”

Now the four friends headed for a giant waterfall. By accident, they all fell over it, and splashed into the water below. They started swimming, and they landed on an island, where they found coconut trees, bananas, and pineapples.

“Yummy! We will eat all of the pineapples, bananas, and coconuts,” said Goofy and Billy.

After they ate, they found a cave with diamonds and emeralds and pineapples in it. Suddenly, a dragon came into the cave and blew fire at them. He said, “Why are you taking my pineapples. That’s my dinner!”

The four friends said, “Sorry, we didn’t mean to take your dinner.”

The dragon said, “I don’t want your apology.” He blew more green, blue, yellow, pink, and purple fire at them. “Bad boy, Billy Goat Filly!”

They all ran away from the dragon, and flew back home to their treehouse to plan their next adventure.

The end (for now)


I had to work a little hard with Gordie to try to gently redirect the the fighting and hitting and chasing and fire blowing. Julian was more willing to come up with topics like the candy land with all the babies crawling around. He also likes the fighting topic, but has a wider variety of interests.

It cracked me up to see Gordie’s little voice coming out in the story, especially when he talked about the robots, Santa, and the dragon. I guess you’d have to know these precious boys to appreciate it the way I did. As an aside, however, I’m the one who’s always telling them they can’t drink soda (the Mountain Dew comment). I laughed that they made my comments coming from the poor angel. LOL.

Have you tried this with the kids in your lives? Give it a try. It’s really an eye-opener. And who knows, it might kick start your own creativity!

Whatever you do today on this Superbowl Sunday, whether it's immersing yourself in watching the game, whipping up treats for those were are doing so, or just enjoying another Sunday at home, be sure allow some writing time. And remember to write like the wind!

                                                                                                                       - Aaron


Lina said...

Haha, this was very sweet. It's so amusing to see what goes on in little kid's minds. I used to make cartoons and little stories when I was seven and I love looking back at them now. They don't make sense at all, but it is really funny.

Marta Stephens said...

Aaron, this is absolutely precious!! I love it!! (see, lots of exclamation marks here too!!)

When I was in third grade, the teacher told us to write a story about our best friend. I won first prize in the class. I was thrilled but when I tried to write another one, it could. I was destined to become a one-story wonder. Until much later, that is.

Thanks so much for sharing this with us today!!!!! :()

Kim Smith said...

Oh Aaron how this little exercise with those babies fills me with envy. I simply cannot wait for a grandchild!!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Thanks, Lina. ;o) Isn't life grand? I still have little books my daughters wrote - Jenn (two years older than her twin sisters) always wrote books about "The Triplets in Maine," because I think she sort of thought of herself as a triplet, they were so close in age. I have it still, somewhere in the attic. ;o)

Marta, your teacher must have sensed your writer's ability in your soul - and look where you are now! Thanks for reading and commenting, I'll be this is a busy busy day in your house full of football fans!

Hey, Kim. Oh, you will be a GREAT grandmother when the time comes. It's one of the finest experiences on earth, next to parenting, of course. Yet so much easier, 'cause you get lots of breaks and can be the good guy all the time. Ha!

David Ebright said...

".... I believe kids should be outside, playing."

Amen Brother! Today's video game kids will grow up to have thumbs the size of 'Turnpike Tom' (from a Steve Goodman song). My kids were into sports & the outdoors. My grandkids are very active on weekends, when they're with my son, otherwise, not so much. Kinda sad.

I was always a storyteller (w/ my boys) but didn't start writing until my grandkids came along. What started as a short story for grandson Jack became a YA novel. Now I have a 2nd almost finished & a 3rd underway. My main character, of course, is a kid named Jack & he has an incredibly awesome grandfather - known affectionately as 'Pop' (who happens to blog these days as JaxPop)

Nice post. Like the story so far, hope y'all stick to it until it's finished - it'll be a great memory for all of you.

(BTW - My grandfather was my favorite storyteller. Just sumpthin' 'bout grandpops n' tall tales I reckon.)

s.w. vaughn said...

LOL How adorable! Those poor babies, drinking strawberry milk. :-) That stuff's way too sweet!

My boy's 13, so I'm happy to wait on grandkids at this point. LOL. But he's an artist like his dad, so he's got that creativity thing down. :-)

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Thanx, JaxPop. I have a feeling we share a LOT in common! I started writing after my dad died, but just a few years before grandson Julian was born. Funny thing was - I invented this little grandson "Johnny," for my character, Gus LeGarde. In two years, Julian was born, and he looked JUST like Johnny. Think I wished him into being? ;o)

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Hi, S.W. I'm with you on waiting for your son to have grandkids! Maybe in 15-20 years, right? But then again, you're still a kid, too. Hee hee. My mentor is a kid. Well, so am I, so I guess it all makes sense. I'm about eleven inside right now. (Don't look at my license, it lies!)

Sheila Deeth said...

That was fun!

David Ebright said...

Hmmm.... odd. Scary odd. I started writing 2 years after my dad died. Keep up the good work.