Thank God our schools are finally teaching children to overcome a common fear: fear of writing. Seeing that I went to school in prehistoric times, I can't recall exactly how English, grammar or literature was taught but they certainly didn't ask me to "develop a character" in First Grade. Some parents might find this shocking. I think it's brilliant.
As it is, children between the ages of four and six have a very active imagination. Almost everyday, I am subjected to a new story about my six-year old's imaginary friend, Doctor Ripperts. So, when he had to develop a character and write a story about it, including a problem and solution - I figured it would be a best seller.
I have to say, I paid a couple of hundred bucks for a writing course that gave me the same exact steps for writing fiction and that kind of ticked me off. A couple of hundred-dollars for a First Grade lesson, really?
Well, I suppose my instructor had to get paid, somehow. And her comments did help me out a lot considering I didn't have anybody else to mull over stories with. It seems the entire First Grade is developing characters so, last Sunday, when my son had a friend over, that was the topic of discussion over grilled cheese sandwiches and barbecue flavored chips.
"So, what's your character's name?" His friend asked.
"David," my son answered.
David? It's exactly what I thought. David may be a very popular name but we don't know anybody in our vicinity named David. This is Sunnyside - we have a Gali, Viraj, Swapnil and even another boy named Kazuki...but no David. So, where he got this name is totally beyond me.
"Okay," his friend continued, "what is David's problem."
"He goes to Chuck E. Cheese and he doesn't have enough money."
"That's a good problem," his friend commented.
A good problem indeed. Not having enough money at Chuck E. Cheese - can you imagine? What ever shall he do?
We tried to guess David's solution.
"Did he steal the money?" His friend asked.
"No," my son said and I let out a sigh of relief. It wasn't that I doubted my son's morals - I just cringed at the thought that he was writing a Guy Ritchie film.
"What was his solution?" I finally asked.
"He used a credit card!" My son announced as if he had balanced a trillion-dollar deficit.
I realize that in a nutshell - his answer is how we are balancing our gazillion-dollar deficit. But just because the country does it, should it be David's solution? The practical, realist, stinker that I am, I asked my six-year old if David won back the money and then some so he could pay his credit card bill.
His answer was, "No, but he won a lot of tickets and got some really cool stuff."
Really cool stuff.
Obviously, his market genre is Fantasy.
"Does David run into debt collectors or garnished paychecks?" I asked.
From across the room they gave me a look that could've killed my Unicorn.
Their characters don't have consequences, they just have a problem and a solution - that's it. That's why Sylvester Stallone can fall off a cliff and not die. Not only that, he doesn't even break a bone or bruise - he just gets a little cut on his cheek. It explains how Bruce Willis never runs out of ammunition or why Jason Stratham can run a car off a building and calmly merge onto the highway.
Six-year old boys don't see anything wrong with that. They don't want to know that you need money to hop on a plane to escape the police. No, all you need is a passport. It doesn't occur to them that you can't just jump into a helicopter and instantly know how to fly it by pressing the up, down and sideways cursor keys.
They think that David is born with an unlimited credit card that is attached to his jeans with one of those mitten clips. But if it gets these little authors to write and love it, then what do I care. They just better not make me wait in line for their book signing.