I love you to the moon and the stars and the arcade.
I love you more than lollipops and lemonade.
I love you as much as thirty hundred.
Sometimes I need to look no further than my four-year-old son for inspiration. He sure does know a lot about love. His enthusiasm and imagination and perspective take even the most ordinary of observations and turn them into gold.
He also loves words, which makes him even more fun to be around. He soaks them up like a sponge and pulls them out when I least expect them, big words that he’s heard grownups or cartoon characters use, words that he sometimes uses correctly but almost always spins in his perfectly preschoolish way.
“You look radishing,” he announced one morning as I came downstairs in my pajamas. Radishing. A lovely compliment for a still-sleepy, bed-headed mother, even from a child who won’t touch a single vegetable. There’s a book in there somewhere.
My little word-lover’s love for words is just the push I need when I’m writing. He reminds me of the wonder of words – how exciting and useful and valuable they can be. He reminds me that the right word can be the most perfect, flawless thing, even if the word itself isn’t an actual word in the dictionary or used in the correct context. And finding that just-right word is what makes writing for kids so much fun.
These days, I feel so lucky, once again, to be waking up each morning able to spend the day doing something I love. Writing, like teaching, invites me to sidle up close to my imagination and allows me to explore so many words, those little linguistic treasures that hide in the everyday, just waiting to be discovered, perfectly suited for a tale yet to be told.
The brilliant Ray Bradbury said this about writing:
Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.
Write only what you love. What if we let our kids do that, at least to start? It sure would be a whole lot more fun that way. We tend to have more words for the things we really care about, and those words are usually the best ones.
For the kids out there, I’ve posted a few more What-ifs to help them spark a little writing love and get those words flowing.
What are your favorite words? What are your kids’favorites?
Happy Valentine’s Day. Here’s to writing, reading, and smiling. And words. Love those words.