The sixth-grader and her friend sneak up on me just as I am putting the finishing touches on an e-mail reply that goes like this:
An area writers' group had sent out an invitation to meet for coffee. The children's book author couldn't make it.
"Thanks for the offer," the author wrote, "but I am much too busy for my own good!! I'm trying to meet a deadline on my third book!! Can you believe it? It's crazy how successful I am! Have fun at your little coffee gathering and I hope you all inspire one another!!"
Okay, so I have added the exclamation marks. Also the stuff in italics. This is what is known in writers' circles as literary license. Or, informally, as being a bitch. For which bitterness, inspired by having my resumé ignored by editors young enough to have kittens on their Facebook pages, deserves much of the credit. Not that there is anything wrong with kittens!!! OMG they're so CUTE!!
Anyway, my point is, being a bitch is not the kind of thing you are supposed to pass on to your children. Especially when they have so much more to teach us. The girls decide they will write their own reply. "I didn't care for any of your other books," it begins.
"Girls," I say, astonished at how unkittenlike they are. "I was only joking. The point of a writers' group is to celebrate each other's success. The correct response is "congratulations!!!" Perhaps with a photo of a kitten attached.