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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

How to be 4 years old in a modern world

If you have read my books you will know that they often include children. Sometimes the hero and heroine are their parents, sometimes not; sometimes they are integral to the storyline, sometimes not; but whatever their role, writing about them is a joy. While I frequently have to wrestle with the main characters, children are more straightforward. Portraying their emotions is easy. It doesn't matter whether they are happy or sad, excited or curious, angry or frightened, their language is always simple and direct.  They are not introspective. They live in the present and rarely worry about what other people think.

I was thinking about this the other day as I worked on the as yet unnamed sequel to Remembering Rose, because the same children will feature in that, and while I was thinking my phone rang. It was my almost four year old granddaughter calling from Hong Kong. Why was she calling? Because she wanted a bedtime story! So I dutifully exchanged my phone for my tablet and complied, not once but twice. I read a Charlie and Lola story, and Superworm. The previous week we read Stick Man. Then we said goodnight and I returned to my writing. It was only later that I registered how very different her childhood is to mine and to that of her parents and even her older cousins.

At almost four years old she is multiracial (Chinese/English/Irish), multicultural (she has already lived in 3 countries and been totally immersed in their cultures (England, Australia and Hong Kong). She has visited mainland China, Wales in England, Paris in France and Dubai. She is also multilingual (English, Mandarin and Cantonese) and will soon attend an International School where she will also learn French. She has attended 4 different nursery schools, all of which had a rainbow mix of children  from across the globe, and the wonderful thing is, that to her, all this is normal. Far from confusing her, it has enlarged her world so that she is confident and friendly, and interested in everything around her. What she isn't, is introspective. Just like the children in my books, she lives in the present and very definitely doesn't worry what other people think. Sadly she might in ten years time because that is what teenagers do. Until then may she continue to enjoy her life as a very modern four year old who thinks asking for a bedtime story on Skype is normal, and I'm looking forward to the day when she decides to read to me across the miles instead.

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