Getting new books (from the library or otherwise) is a regular occurrence in our home. So when I asked my kids if they wanted to read a new one – they were totally up for it. Cuddled up on the couch, one little one on each side I turned the first page of my newest book and waited to see how all of us would feel as it unfolded.
I resisted saying “HEY, LOOK WHAT I DID!”. Instead, I just began. And what happened was more than I had ever hoped or expected.
“A is for appreciation aaaand ant”, I began.
First came squeals of ‘Ooooh look at the cute little ant!’ from my daughter, who is 3.
I don’t think it took long for my son (aged 6) to realize it was my book, but he didn’t say a word about it. He just gave me a little smile a few pages in that made me know, he knew. He had sat beside me for every animal I had painted and seen the computer screen many times as I formatted the file before printing. He just sat, head rested on my shoulder and listened.
As we went along I would ask questions like “Do you guys know what ‘grateful’ means?” (after we had gotten to the letter G). Then, “When was the last time you guys felt ‘happiness‘? The conversations that came out of those pages were like magic to me. They were fun. Easy. And the best excuse ever to tell them how sitting there with them in that moment made me happy and grateful.
It was what I had hoped for, not just for my family but for anyone who had my book in their hands. The thought of opening those conversations and experiencing those feelings on purpose was why I had kept going. Through doubt, fear and any other excuse I could throw at it, it was here now.
We talked about sea urchins and inspiration.
My son brought the book right up to his nose to look at the colours melting together inside the letters.
I saw my daughter put both hands on her heart, close her little eyes, smile and take a deep breath feeling joy as I read the page for J.
I heard her tell me about a little dream she had in her heart that I had never known about.
I listened to my son realize that he had actually had an experience of ‘knowing’ in his life. Aaand that the word had a silent ‘k’.
After the book my husband eagerly said ‘Do you know who wrote that??’. My boy knew but my girl nearly jumped off the couch when she found out. She sqeezed my neck so hard I thought I was going to black out, but didn’t want to move. It was so worth it.
Then, I got to show them the two tiny turtles on the dedication page. “Dedicated to my little ones”, I said. For you guys.
So, over my lifetime of wanting to publish a children’s book, many years of working front-line with children, writing classes, stacks and stacks of filled watercolor paper, practice and rejection letters, I am so happy to say today that I did it. I introduced my kids and my heart to the ‘knowing’ that it has finally happened.
Photo courtesy of Norman Leong Photography