What-ifs: Writing and Kindergarten Orientation

This week, Kid #1 had Kindergarten orientation.

In case you missed that, let me reiterate: HOLYCRAP MY KID IS GOING TO KINDERGARTEN.


So, all the kids were supposed to go to a classroom (actually 10 classrooms, because apparently our neighborhood exploded with children all at once, which is kind of cool for the neighborhood, but kind of crazy for the school) while the parents stayed in the auditorium where important reminders were issued, such as: if your child is sick, they probably shouldn’t come to school; also, don’t forget to pick them up. And somewhere during the one hour session we learned what on earth they could possibly do with 5-year-olds for 7 hours a day (which I’m still kind of unclear on, but whatever).

I know there was a bunch of stuff that I did actually need to hear about, but I think I kind of missed it because of what happened when Kid #1 left the room.

Even though Kid #1 can sometimes be painfully shy in a crowd, I knew she’d have no trouble leaving me because the painfully shy part is almost always overshadowed by the painfully-embarrassed-by-me part. So I watched as she walked down this long hall, and I started to think, Huh, that’s a big hall.

And then I thought: What if some kid pushes her?

Then: I secretly hope she pushes back.

Then: Shoot, I hope a teacher doesn’t walk out to see her pushing but didn’t see the other kid pushing first. What if they don’t believe her? How dare they. Oh crap, I’m gonna be that parent in the office defending her pushing child. There will be a note attached to Kid #1’s file: Obnoxious Mom. Great.

Then I realized I was actually annoyed and all geared up to confront a bunch of school administrators, even though none of this actually happened. In fact, my daughter made it to and from her class all in one smiling piece as neither a pusher nor a pushee.

But I also realized that this is kind of how I write. Some writers start with a big concept right away and run with it (and, man, I am jealous of them). I go more with the What-if leading to another What-if leading to another What-if, and then about 20 What-ifs later… I have a story.

My What-if does not come with a bang. It starts like this: My daughter, walking down the hall. Alone.

So. That’s where my ideas come from. And how they grow. But they almost always start in either one of two ways:

A – So there’s this girl….


B – So there’s this boy….