Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fiction or Non-Fiction

My mom gave Zoe a spiral notebook yesterday, and last night Zoe asks if I could help her write a story in it. "Well, what do you want the story to be about?" I ask. "I don't know," is her response. "Do you want it to be fiction or non-fiction?" They learned the difference in first grade and Zoe loves that she knows the difference.

Zoe says, "I want it to be about my birthparents, but I don't know what to write since I don't know their names or where they live or what they look like. So that makes it hard to write non-fiction." "I can see how that makes it hard. How does that make you feel?" "FRUSTRATED!"

(I almost expected to hear a "damnit!" after that word -- a close family member who will remain nameless has a tendency to say "damnit," and Zoe picked up on it when she was around 3, and I'm trying to explain to her why she can't say it without saying this beloved family member was saying a bad word. At one point I say, " So-and-So says this word when she's frustrated." Zoe looks me dead in the eye, and says completely dead-pan, "I'm frustrated. Damnit." So much for explanations! Next I said flatly, "It's a bad word -- you can't say it EVER!" But I digress . . .)

She doesn't want to talk any more about her feelings. She's hunched over, the perfect posture of cold shoulder. I suggest, "We could make a list of what we do know about your birthparents. We know they lived in China, for example." "That won't work," Zoe says in disgust, "the list will be too short." She doesn't even want to try. She doesn't like my suggestion that she could write a fiction story, using her imagination to write about her birthparents.

Finally, she decides the story will be titled, "The Year I Was Born," and she's going to tell it in pictures instead of words. She draws a baby and a dragon -- "I was born in the year of the Dragon." She says she doesn't know how to draw a person holding a baby "like this," with her arms in an oval in front of her -- her birthmother carrying her. She's definitely losing interest in this topic.

She's off to other things, and the story goes unfinished. . . .

UPDATE: In the comments, Sue suggests an approach I like a lot:

Well,maybe it's too subtle for a 7-year-old, but there is something
in-between fiction and non-fiction that could be the basis for a story someday.
You could start out making a list of things you know, some things that could be
true (birth family members probably have similar appearance, abilities, etc.),
and then some things you wish were true that could become the fictional part of
the story. It might show that there is more known than you think. For example,
both my kinds can curl their tongues, so we know that someone in their
birthfamily must be able to do that too (as I think that is inherited). Trivial
detail, but it is something we know to be true, even though we don't know their
birthparents.

4 comments:

mimifrancoise said...

This close family member does NOT say "dammit" when she is frustrated. She says it when she is exasperated!!! Like several calamities arise at the same time...such as husband in ICU, being called by the night nurse at 1:00 a.m. to come to hospital, it is pouring rain, the lights inside the car is out and she can't see the dashboard, then she comes home at daylight and the garage is flooded. I think the word "dammit" showed a lot of restraint!!! ;~)

Wendy said...

First of all, I am SO glad you are blogging again! I LOVE the topic you have chosen for your blog as well. And you mom cracks me up! btw--I say it (well, damn) and have had M say that a couple of times. Explain it when you are the culprit!

M (now 4 yrs and 4 months) talks with us daily about all things adoption, bp, life in China, etc. She was adopted at 25 months from AML (also an original Guiping girl) where she was fostered for 20 of the 25 months she lived in China.

M has asked us questions for over a year now, and "they couldn't care for you" has not worked for about a year. Why? Well, we do the same as you, we offer maybe's. She has made her own reasoning from the possibilities. Currently she says she "knows" she does not have any siblings in China and that her birthparents could not take care of her because they could not afford her hand surgeries (you never know, maybe she is right). She ebbs and flows from wanting to know who they are to never wanting to see them. She talks to them on her play phone, writes them letters, and sends them email. She also does this with her foster mother (and we really do know and contact her) so I think that is where she got the idea. She wants her foster mother to come to America, but not her bfamily.

I so wish we could get together someday. I just know we would be able to chat all day. It is so awesome that both of the girls are from Guiping, I wish M had that. Alas, she will be an only child. If you ever get to Ohio please let me know or want to do a playdate! We would love to meet up with you someday.

malinda said...

Good to hear from you, Wendy! It would be GREAT to get together. And you're invited to visit us in Texas, any time! Thanks for sharing your "adoption talk." It's good to know I'm not the only one dealing with this!

And BTW, I'M not the one who "outed" you, Mimi!

Sue said...

Well,maybe it's too subtle for a 7-year-old, but there is something in-between fiction and non-fiction that could be the basis for a story someday. You could start out making a list of things you know, some things that could be true (birth family members probably have similar appearance, abilities, etc.), and then some things you wish were true that could become the fictional part of the story. It might show that there is more known than you think. For example, both my kinds can curl their tongues, so we know that someone in their birthfamily must be able to do that too (as I think that is inherited). Trivial detail, but it is something we know to be true, even though we don't know their birthparents.