Monday, February 4, 2013


My son, to quote Michael Jackson, is a lover not a fighter.

He's the one who holds my face, stares into my eyes and says, "Mommy, you have such a beautiful smile." He's the one who chases his sister around on the playground and then wraps her in an enormous bear hug.

Because of this, we dote on him like he's a puppy. Which is all fine, except in some ways he's like the pampered, lapdog version of a puppy. It occurred to me the other morning, as I was making breakfast, that he's been working the system far too long when it comes to using a knife and fork to cut his food.

He's had ample instruction on multiple occasions, but we're all kinda suckers for him. However on this particular morning I decided to hold strong.

Child #2 ambled into the breakfast room, eyed his plate and announced, "Someone needs to cut my pancake."

"This morning that someone will be you," I said and handed him a knife and fork.

Things got ugly fast. "This is neglect!" he cried when he figured out food would not be partitioned into bite-sized pieces on his behalf. "You're a mean mom who sends her child to school without breakfast. I won't eat."

Instead of making the obvious points, homemade pancake sitting on plate, table service, school morning, I just smiled and said, "I guess you'll be really hungry for lunch."

He cried. He stabbed at his pancake with a knife like it was a murder weapon. His food got cold. He had to microwave it. The microwave door propelled the plate onto the floor where it broke. I served him another pancake and he had to start over, but in the end he managed to cut his pancake.

On the way home from school, instead of congratulating myself, I thought about roadblocks.

Child #2's refusal to cut his own food is classic kid behavior, but that doesn't mean adults don't engage in it too. I've had to drag myself kicking and screaming down certain paths only to discover, once I got there, it's actually kind of nice on the other side.

Blogging. Twitter. Querying. Writing the Dreaded Synopsis. Telling People I Want to be a Writer. Pushing for a Big Six Deal. Marketing Effectively. Developing Thick Skin.

That's a partial list of of my writing related roadblocks. Some have been conquered. Some still require work.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I would love to have a writer mommy to decide when I was ready to start using a knife and fork to cut through my roadblocks.

Writing is one of those careers that's all about internal motivation. Most of the time I'm good at that. But every now and then I long to have someone appear in my kitchen and tell me today is the day I develop thicker skin.

On a sidenote, Child #2 cut his steak into nice little bite size pieces yesterday. It really is nicer on the other side.


Connie J Jasperson said...

You are an awesome mother and one of the better writers I know! I love your blog!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

And I'm sure that will make it easier for you not to cut his food all the time.
Knowledge is empowering, and once we learn we can do something, we are free to move forward.

Gail said...

Ahhh, the horrible lessons of growing up.

May you overcome your roadblocks.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Good for you Johanna. Your kids will appreciate your strength as they get older.

Road blocks are common in life. So the sooner we learn to hurdle them the better. I am CONSTANTLY face-to-face with mine. I often have to use DYNAMITE to blast them away... LOL.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Or even someone to tell you where the heck to go next!

Tonja said...

We just make the pancakes small - no cutting necessary. And the syrup goes on the side - they just dip it in.

A writer mama would be nice in a way, but my inner teenager would rebel against her.

ilima said...

What a great concept. I could use a writer mommy every once in a while.

jaybird said...

Since you somehow manage to make homemade pancakes on a school morning, I'd like it very much if you could be MY writer mommy :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

You made me laugh with this one, both from a mama standpoint and remembered battles with eggs and toast, and personally.

There are always roadblocks and detours in life. It's always a matter of thinking on the how to's and then rolling up the sleeves and getting to it. :-)

Barbara Watson said...

This is good. I have some writer-related roadblocks emerging right now and needed the reminder to push through. Thank you.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Wow, those sweet-tempered angels can turn on you quick when they don't get their own way, huh?

My personal roadblock is travel. Going somewhere new without my husband to make all the preparations and lead me.

Something I'll have to get over when it's time to do book promotions.

Johanna Garth said...

Thanks Connie! What a nice compliment.

Alex, I LOVE not having to cut his food. Can't tell you how much I love it.

Thanks Gail.

Michael, I need to borrow some of your dynamite

Diane, I could use that too.

Tonja, mine would too ;)

Ilima, kind of like a trainer at the gym, right!

Jaybird, sure, come on over :)

Sia, exactly!

Barbara, we all need those reminders.

Dianne, I'm the same way! Can't make travel arrangements to save my life.

Hart Johnson said...

HA! Just sent five queries. Ick. What is it that some kids are so eager to do it on their own and others want help every step. My son has resisted learning to make himself... well... ANYTHING just about. He will finally get his own cereal or ice cream. But my daughter, at his age, had been adept at macaroni and grilled cheese for 4 years.

PK HREZO said...

You are so patient. I love that you simply got him another pancake. That's what we all need--that someone to get us another pancake. Most of the time, we get our own new pancakes. And you're right, it is nicer on the other side. We just have to be pushed. :)

Carol Kilgore said...

I want a writer mommy, too. And a goodreads fairy godmother.

Unknown said...

I'm guilty of this, too, with the knife. But that's because my son struggles with his small motor skills. It's easier to do it for him, than to end up with the food on the floor. I'm getting better though at making him doing it. Especially since he's 13. *shrugs*

I love that teddy. He's adorable.

My internal motivation is great when it comes to working on my wip. It's not so great when it comes to working on my synopsis. :P

Shell Flower said...

Ah, yes, I sure would love it if someone would query and take rejection for me, but alas, I guess I have to face that myself. Success will be all the sweeter once I force myself to face the challenge.

Chuck said...

Pretty cool that you and the kids can learn something from the same lesson. Although I would still "sleep with one eye open, clutching your pillow tight"...for a few more days.

**lyric from Metallic's song Enter Sandman

Chuck at Apocalypse Now

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I laughed when your son claimed it was "neglect"; maybe he should be a lawyer too. :) I think it's good that you're encouraging your kids to be independent, because that's something that will definitely help them as they grow older. I can understand why some parents still want to do everything for their kids (and I mean EVERYTHING), but I think it's also good to teach them how to be independent, too.

Jayne said...

You sound like such a good mum. Homemade pancakes before school sounds awesome! Even if some, you know, end on the floor. ;)

I think personal roadblocks are everywhere, but they can be overcome with a mixture of preparation and determination. I have many, most connected to anxiety of some sort, but every so often I have to challenge myself and just go for it - and every little accomplishment is a step on the way to where I want to be. :)

Unknown said...

Don't you love it when concepts like "child using knife and fork" and "writerly roadblocks" collide?

Beyond Acadia
Jan at Beyond Acadia

Mark Koopmans said...


As I've said before, I *love* coming here, because it's nice to know we're not the only struggling set of parents:)

I'm with you though... no eat breakfast? You be hungry at lunch:)

It worked for me... for the most part :)

PS... if you come over for the Writers' Retreat, you don't have to run the marathon - promise :)