Here is the last of a three-part guest blog by Scott Elliott, who lives and teaches in Walla Walla, Washington. Scott is the father of two boys and two books, Coiled in the Heart and Temple Grove: A Novel. Click here for his bio.
On the day leading up to the reading, we hiked down to Teddy Bear Beach, where we caught shore crabs, threw rocks, and looked at purple sea stars. Time in the sun out on the beach, and the hike back up the trail tired them out. Both of them napped briefly in the car on the way back to the house we were renting, but too briefly. In our attempts to get them to rest or nap, Jenna and I bet heavily on that the reward of getting to see daddy read that night with its added bonus of a later bedtime would give us enough leverage to get them to rest or nap. But they flipped this leverage on us and began alternately saying they did and did not want to attend the reading, sensing, in the expert way kids develop so early, that to say they didn’t want to see daddy read carried power, a sting.
At first it did sting a little bit; I wanted them to be there at the reading’s close, to build that memory for them, to let them share in the symbolism of celebrating the years of work that go into brining a literary novel into the world and perhaps also so I could make even more exquisite the strange pleasure of switching from author to daddy in seconds, being both at the same time in the eyes of the crowd.
It wasn’t to be. As the time when we’d need to leave for the reading approached and they hit a low point at dinner, refusing to eat and throwing food, getting wilder-eyed by the minute in that reckless spiral parents recognize. Like boxing referees deciding whether to call a fight, Jenna and I realized at the same time that they were in a potentially event ruining frame of mind and it was best they didn’t go. Itching to morph personae and feeling bad for Jenna, when the time came I let the door shut on the madness behind me to feel the quiet and the night’s breeze. Full of guilt and relief, I walked to the event, leaving the car keys in case there was a miraculous reversal and she thought they could make it.
Someday we’ll show them pictures of the trip, or I’ll bring it up if they ever decide to read the novel on their own. “You know, you were with us on the tour for that book. Do you remember that?” And they’ll say, “No, but I do remember being really close to a grizzly bear.”
Perhaps the fact of the reading will click into place later, become for them one of those shadow awarenesses they’ll remember sensing in the background at the time as they were experiencing the bright and fleeting immediacy of their own lives.
Thanks, Scott! Everyone: you can buy Scott’s newest book, TEMPLE GROVE through this link. Please stay tuned for more exciting guest-blogs from the trenches about BOOK TOURS WITH KIDS!
Summer, with its long days and extra Vitamin D, is a great time to tie up loose ends on half-finished projects. Get working!