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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Big Kids with More Hair


It never occurred to me as a child that my parents were human beings.  They seemed to be very smart and to know what they were doing.  Sometimes they’d get angry and I assumed it was my fault.  It never occurred to me that perhaps they’d eaten something that disagreed with them or maybe someone at work had looked at them the wrong way or that maybe another driver on the road had given them the finger when they forgot to go when the light turned green because they were worried about some bill they’d forgotten to pay. 

Parents just seem to know what’s up.  They manage to keep us from dying (most of us).  They don’t know everything (I’m a parent – I don’t know much).  The strangest part of growing up for me was realizing that parents are simply kids who have gotten bigger and have more hair (or less, later in life).

My dad actually told me one time in his sixties that he still felt like a child.  He told me he had no idea what was right, except for music, which he knew absolutely was right (he knew this as a child, too). 

Weird, but also fascinating.

For me, one of the great joys of writing YA has been to explore those moments when kids are figuring out the fallibility of adults.  They are such powerful moments.

In the book I’m writing now, Felton, my lead fellow, is in the process of being enraged by his mother’s behavior, terrified by her lack of concern for he and his brother’s future prosperity, filled with a sense of empathy for her struggles, and filled with a certain kind of power at slowly understanding the difference between kid and adult is a fine line and that he, with a modicum of reasonable behavior, might be a better adult than most.

What is a parent?  The only thing you can know with certainty is that they’re older than their children.  Do they make good decisions in a crisis?  Did they eat a bad lunch?  Can they pay their bills?  Who knows?  A huge part of growing up is learning that your parents are human beings just like you.  And, that’s fun stuff to write.

Geoff Herbach

8 comments:

  1. Excellent post. Felton's character sounds complex and fascinating.

    I love this blog but have one suggestion--it would be great to have a link with every post to the writer's information. That way, we can more easily learn about your books, etc.

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    1. Hi Vicki, that's definitely a good idea. I'll put my info at the end of posts from now on. You can get more about my stuff here: geoffherbach.com.

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  2. Your dad's comments seem eerily accurate from my standpoint. I'm 64 and the more I look at the world, the less I think I still know or trust to be real, but he was dead on about music. I, too like the power and process of looking at parents through the eyes of teens as a writer.

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    1. The power of music, for sure. I wish I'd spent more time (like he wanted) practicing music, because he took so much joy out of playing piano in his life. He got my son into it, though.

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  3. Geoff--I loved that about STUPID FAST. The way you explored the parent/child relationship. And heck--I just adore Felton no matter how you slice it!

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  4. My mom's always said the same thing your dad says...She tells me she doesn't feel any different inside than she did when she was 17!

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  5. Yes!! The moment that we discover our parents are fallible--fascinating. My kids have already figured it out. Rats.

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