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Words at Play: Becoming a Child Biographer


Published October 26, 2015 at 4:25 p.m.

Our children often do funny, interesting and amazing things. Sometimes we tell family and friends about it, but I suggest you also write it down. This need not involve a lot of extra work. As part of your bedtime routine you can review the events of the day with your child and jot down anything that stands out. Some days you might not have anything new to write down, but when your child is older they will enjoy hearing about their past.

The summer my now-24-year-old daughter, Alice, was 5, we lived on King Street near the center of Burlington. At that time, there was a fountain on the top block of Church Street. One afternoon we walked to the fountain. Alice was wearing a blue bathing suit with pink jelly sandals. She went into the fountain and when she came out she asked to borrow my hat. She took the hat, put it on the ground in the middle of Church Street and began doing her version of tap dancing. I was sitting nearby, browsing though a magazine. Every once in a while I glanced up at Alice. She seemed to be enjoying herself. A few minutes later she returned with the hat. Much to my surprise, it had seven dollars in it. That was the start of her performing career. She went on to study drama at the University of Vermont.

For her senior project at UVM, Alice wrote a play which incorporated this true story I wrote down for her:

When Alice was six she saved enough money to buy a purple purse. The store that had the one she wanted was in the mall in downtown Burlington. At the time we lived nearby. One afternoon, Alice collected all the money she had saved and left the house without telling me. Luckily I saw her go and followed her as she went to Main Street and patiently waited for the walk signal. She confidently marched up Church Street, found the store and made her purchase. As she turned to leave she saw me and said, "Hi, dad, how do you like my purse?"
I said, "It's very nice, but next time please tell me before you leave the house."
"Sure," she said, and we walked home together.

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.