When looking through old photographs of my daughter, I have trouble reconciling that she was that person. I do remember how small her hands were when she was born and how helpless she was at first.
However, one look at my child as she rides her scooter through the house takes me out of such nostalgia-filled moments. In see her as-is, the talkative, bright-eyed and sassy girl that she is today.
In many ways, this mirrors my own experiences in life. We were all children once and remember key times in our youth. However I tend to view it through my eyes, filtered through a veil of adult experience.
This might explain why children in novels sometimes seem disconnected from reality. Unless you have a three-year old wreaking havoc in the house, you may not realise the unrealistic wisdom in their words or their excellent grasp of grammar.
Not that children that age are incapable of that sort of thing. There have been some golden nuggets of wisdom that my daughter said that threw me for a loop. Still that is a couple of instances over time, not a consistent affair.
The same applies when writing the world through a child’s eyes. When I was roughly my child’s age, I remember spending hours picking hazelnuts from the trees. My parents had a big advantage over me. However, I could find hazelnuts lower in the tree than they could for the same reasons they could not and that was size.
I was reminded of that fact when she asked me for my phone. My daughter wanted to take pictures of the squirrels running about and instead opted for a video.
It astonished me to see how close she was to the ground, how near her feet were and how much bigger the world seemed. Sure it’s all obvious when one thinks about it and I cannot help but wonder how much harder it gets once our own children have flown the nest.
One of my memories as a child was going to my grandparents. I remember a huge hill upon which they built a church and the trek that had to be made to ascend this great peak. When I returned decades later for a funeral, the hill was nowhere to be seen!
Now the church and the house had not moved. What had changed was my height and perspectives in life. In that one moment I was forced to reconcile memories of youth with current perspectives, but such opportunities can be rare.
So let your kids be kids, take plenty of pictures and never pass up the opportunity to see the world through their eyes! Doing so will certainly create more believable children in literature.