the girlchild's mother

Jessica had a question:

I have sort of a random question… Given that her mother is a Big Famous Author, what do your daughter’s tastes in books run toward? (I know that that sentence is so badly worded, but I’m severely undercaffeinated this morning and can’t think of an alternative.)

The girlchild doesn’t read my books, which really, I understand. She most likely doesn’t really want to know all the stuff I’ve got in my head. As far as having a novelist mother is concerned, I think she is alternately proud and mortified, but mostly mortified. Of course everything I do embarrasses her. I told her long ago about the conference phone call at three a.m. where all us mothers put our heads together to think up new ways to mortify teenagers. I’ve explained that I’m under a contractual obligation to cause her to wince every day at least ten times. Oddly, she isn’t mollified by the knowledge that she’s not the only one.

When I was a teenager I wouldn’t cook when my father was around because well, he was a Cook. Arturo, the Cook, is how everybody thought of him. I baked instead, because he didn’t bake and he was appreciative of baked goods. I did learn to cook from him, you understand, but not by cooking in front of him.

The girlchild is currently reading about five books at once, most of them about as different from my books as you can get. She loves Gregory Maguire’s books (Wicked was one of her early book crushes), and she reads a lot of memoirs about people who have dealt with addiction. This topic is of interest because there’s a history of alcoholism in my family that I’ve always talked to her about very openly, in the hope that she would think not twice, but twenty times before she started drinking. And then, because she’s seventeen, she’ll turn on a dime and go re-read the whole Little House series. She loves Harry Potter. Once in a while I suggest a book I think she’ll like. My biggest success was Patchett’s The Magician’s Assistant, which she adored and we talked about for a long time.

In short, she’s got her own aesthetic and interests which in large part down overlap with mine. Maybe as she gets older. I hope. I like talking to her about books.

6 Replies to “the girlchild's mother”

  1. Re: teenagers
    My theory is that they get especially contrary and difficult in the last year of high school so that the idea of the kid going off to college or moving out starts sounding good instead of awful! Otherwise we wouldn’t want to ever let them go…and we have to let them go…

  2. I have three kids — the oldest (girl, 21) seems to have gotten over any embarrassment that she had, the middle one (boy, 19) just shakes his head but doesn’t say much, but the youngest (girl,14) is mortified about half the time — and, yet, of the three of them, she and I are most alike. Maybe that’s what’s scaring her. All of them know I have my own forum and that there are things on there that I have written and that people have read. Some of them are R-rated. And, yet, to the best of my knowledge none of them have checked dear old mom’s forum out. Of course, maybe that’s what they want me to think…

    In which case, I am mortified…

  3. My older son, who is also seventeen, likes to read and sometimes makes comments about what he is reading. A while ago, during a trip to a hospital and more than one hour in the waiting room, we started talking about drugs and its effects to the mind. I mentioned Aldous Huxley and his writings under supervised drug influence. My son was quite surprised that his mother not only new about those experiments but also had read his books over twenty years ago. On our way back home, he suggested me to stop at a bookstore, where we searched and discussed about different books. I really enjoyed it. Of course we have different interests, but some are common, and I tried to read some of the books he suggests me, so we can seat and talk.

  4. I asked this question because I read a book, and for some reason, your daughter came to my mind. (You told me a bit about her when we talked about the school I teach at.) We never talked about her taste in books, so it struck me as strange that I thought of her.

    Anyway, the book is called POISON STUDY, by Maria V. Snyder. The sequel, MAGIC STUDY, just came out this month. I found it as a recommendation on a book blog, Jennie’s B(ook)log. Have a great weekend!

  5. PS–I don’t think I could bring myself to write a “love” scene my mom wrote, either. Though we do now share books all the time (yours, for example, and Diana Gabaldon’s).

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