Taking It Down

Little House on Prairie.jpg

The only good thing to come out of the 5 snow days and the bazillion inches of snow we've received over the past two weeks is that my girls and I have had lots and lots of time to watch one of my favorite television series:  Little House on the Prairie.  The minute those opening credits started to roll, I was taken right back to my own childhood.  I remember loving that show (and the books) with all my heart.  I'm still a little heartbroken that my yellow-spined boxed edition of the series somehow disappeared and have just ordered a new set for my girls.     

Anyways, I wasn't sure if my girls would like the show.  I didn't remember it all that clearly, but I did remember that it was slow.  And that a lot of the plot lines revolve around the grown-ups.  For better or worse, my girls have been raised watching Frozen, Sofia the First, and Doc McStuffins.  They're used to action packed movies and television shows that get resolved in twenty minutes.  They're used to scrolling through apps.  But I am so happy to report that they are completely entranced by Little House on the Prairie.  It helps that my girls are a trio of sisters just like the Ingalls girls and they love that the sisters on the show are best friends who get to sleep in the same bed at night.  But I think there's more to it.  I think there's something magical about watching this family make its way in a world that is both a lot simpler, and a lot more challenging than our current world.  I think that even at their young ages, they can recognize that some problems are universal and take comfort in watching girls in such different circumstances than their own face similar challenges.    

And you know what else, I think they love the pace of the show.  I think they love that the story lines evolve slowly and that they're given the time to watch Laura and Mary just wander through a wheat field or catch crabs in a stream.  It's like this trance comes over all of us as we watch and it feels like everything starts to slow.  I forget about my phone, they forget about whining for a snack.  As a parent, it's made me want to take everything down like twenty notches.  Like everything.  I've been on a rampage getting rid of stuff, clearing out closets, and canceling things on our schedule.  I've been trying to just take it down a little.  While I understand that the show is obviously Hollywood's version of life with three young children in a tiny log cabin, there is something inspiring about it.  Something that makes me want to be a different kind of parent.  Give my kids a different kind of childhood.  Just watch the show, you'll see what I mean.

As for my writing, watching this series has really made me think about where drama can come from.  I've been working hard on a very exciting middle grade novel.  I'm not ready to share all the details, but one thing I've been trying to do is ensure that the drama, the tension of the story, does not stem from girls being mean to other girls.  I think a little mean girl drama is part of life, it certainly was part of life on the prairie, but I also believe that there are ways to write for girls this age without relying on that as a crutch.  I think girls need a break from that since they get more than enough of it in real life.  So that's what I'm trying to do.  I'll keep you posted as it progresses.  Promise!