Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

The importance of being

There’s been no shortage of busy-ness round these parts; it’s just that for a while I’ve been content to observe it all without rushing to shape it into entertaining prose. Funny, when I’m busy teaching the art of non-fiction writing, I’m least inclined to do it myself (apart from the occasional review).

Also, sometimes it’s nice just to be. Especially when the earth is warming up, the crocuses bursting through, and the buds about to break on every branch.

And also, I’m noticing that the boy I call Busytot is approaching the age of, if not reason, self-consciousness. It’s the age at which I remember -- we all remember -- suddenly noticing that adults talked about us, above us, over us, and down to us, and for kicks, urged us to repeat our darling little formulations for entertainment. It’s an age of mutiny and self-preservation, as we struggle to protect our budding selves from misinterpretation, misapprehension, and mischaracterization.

Call it the first teenagehood, and I mean that in a wholly affirming way. If he could, he’d be dyeing his hair blue right now.

Now, some would argue that them as have given birth to the little buggers have the first right of serialization on all their charming exploits and anecdotes. But that doesn’t mean we should publish every thought that runs through their, or our, minds.

I’m thinking of the hoo-ha over at Salon.com, where a writer I once admired (not least for her ability to churn out books between babies, and vice versa) has made rather a spectacle of herself (see readers' letters here and here -- this being Salon, you have to view an ad in order to read these pieces). She's cavalierly over-exposed her children in the process (again, to a chorus of boos and cheers).

I love to hear an uncensored maternal voice (and let me recommend Brain,Child magazine for some superb examples). But this writer goes further than I find comfortable, and makes me rethink my own willingness to mine my daily domestic dramas, however minor and amusing. There’s a fine line between primping your kids and pimping them, even when it’s funny.

Which is not to say that I’m killing off Busytot as a character – even Conan Doyle saw the folly in that one and had to figure out how to get Holmes back up from the bottom of the Reichenbach Falls. Busytot will continue to pop in and out of this blog, making the occasional guest appearance. But always in a dignified pose, fully clad, and speaking nothing but plain sense.

Because, in the end, I don’t want to go A.A. Milne on him. He’s already got the hair, poor lamb, but only because I can’t get near him with the scissors, and anyway by the end of the summer it will be more late Beatles, verging on mullet, than Christopher Robin. Although I don’t think CR roamed around Hundred Acre Wood wearing nothing but his gruts and a couple of dozen stick-on tattoos, weeing on trees and terrorizing the cat.

See, but there I go again. Can’t leave the poor lad alone. So let me afford him a little space to just be himself -- and, according to some fascinating conversations recently, his many other previous incarnations too. “First I was a dinosaur, then a blue butterfly, then a cat, then a space shuttle pilot, then your Daddy, then your Mummy, and then I was me.”

Work out the karma that gives you that sequence of lives. Isn’t this a Buddha who deserves to write the rest of his own story, in his own good time?