Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Kid Effect

By Angel Smits

   We have new neighbors. That’s not all that unusual since the house next door is a rental. So every couple of years, we get new neighbors. This time, however, it’s a bit different. These people have four small children.
   Our neighborhood has aged since we moved in twenty years ago. All the kids, my kids ran around with are all grown. Some of their parents are still around, but most have downsized or moved away. In a largely military community, many have moved “back home.” So this change isn’t what’s caught my attention.
   In what’s been a fairly quiet neighborhood the last few years it’s strange to hear the high-pitched sound of children’s voices. I find myself looking out our upstairs windows, hearing their giggles and laughter, wondering what they’re up to. And missing when my kids were that little. ( I quickly change that thinking when they start fighting over a toy, or slugging it out in the toy box—but let me keep my rose colored glasses for a bit longer.) I’m enjoying their antics. And the giggles. There’s no better sound in the world than the happy giggles of little kids.
   The other day I heard a new sound, a familiar, long forgotten one. The sound of those battery-powered cars that kids have. My son got one for his birthday when he was two or three. I watched the little ones next door for awhile drive theirs around the yard, then went to the closet to dig out the old pictures. I found some I’d taken of my son and daughter riding around in the back yard.

If only we'd known...
Hang on!  
How young they were. There’s one of my daughter driving, and my son hanging onto the back of it for dear life. They were so cute. Since then we’ve gone through driving school and the unfortunately inevitable cars—real grown up cars—that have been wrecked by both kids. If we’d know then what we know now, would we have let the speed demons loose in the back yard? I don’t know. They sure had fun, and I had fun watching them.

Good thing Dad's always around to help steer!!
Recently, I gave a workshop at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference about using kids as secondary characters. I love to have kids in my books, and they do make great secondary characters. Mainly because you can have them do—and say—things no adult could get away with. And that’s what they do in real life, too! It’s such fun. And I think it’s a way that I can keep my kids, in my mind at least, little forever. They grow up so quickly, and while that may seem cliché (don’t we just hate those!) But it’s all too true. Thank goodness they invented the camera! I took a lot of pictures when they little, thank goodness. All I have to do is pull out the photos, open the windows and let the laughter drift in from next door, and remember. Such fun memories. And the sound effects sure help.


Mary Preston said...

Children do add a fun element to stories.

Kristina Knight said...

I love kids in romances, as a reader and as a writer, because they are so unpredictable!

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