This is from my childhood. I used to lean on my mom when she was cooking and annoy my dad when he was reading the paper, and at the time, I didn’t know why. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized I was looking for affection. It’s not always easy or convenient to stop what you’re doing and hug your kids, but when I was a young mom, I tried.
I imagined that the boys gossiped as much and as cruelly as the girls did. I might have been right.
When I wrote about the children in the strip, I tried to create situations that were very obviously not about my own children. Nonetheless, Aaron had to explain over and over that Martha didn’t exist! He even got a letter from a Martha, wondering if she was "the one."
I did this. I had become somewhat good at wallpapering and offered to do my mother-in-law’s kitchen. She chose a Lily of the Valley pattern, and it wasn’t until I’d finished the entire room that she noticed the blossoms were upside down!
This was a true to life scenario. I did exactly what you see here, and the only good it did was…to give me a good Sunday comic strip.
I eventually learned some of the tricks of the trade…but by then, I’d messed up a lot of walls.
The walls ARE often crooked. This is why stripes and squares have to be carefully measured and cut. Just call a professional.
I often used to start big projects after dinner when the kids were in bed and the house was quiet. The trouble with this was that I couldn’t stop when I was tired–I was always determined to finish the job…which might be 3:00am.
So many people wrote to say this had happened to them, I had to make up a "standard reply!"
When my daughter reads this now, she’ll laugh out loud–she and I can spend a full day in a good mall and wish we had more time!
Creating storylines for the strip allowed me to go back and forth between child and grownup. As Elly, I would live in the moment; talk about the day-to-day things a mom might deal with. As Michael, entering junior high school, I would become a teenager again. It doesn’t take much to open up those difficult, exciting, passionate, and intensely private times. Try it. Take yourself back to grade 8 and see how much you remember. When adults dismiss teenagers as being "just kids," we are forgetting how brilliant, aware, creative and fragile we were.
I remember so clearly moving from Ridgeway Elementary School to Sutherland Senior Secondary. The girls were all beginning to mature. Our bodies were changing faster than the boys’ were, and suddenly our bodies were on display. This was my impression anyway. We had gone from being almost unisex beings–bumping into each other and roughhousing without too much interest in shape or size, to being physically checked out. Checked out, as in what are you wearing under what you are wearing? It wasn’t just the boys checking out the girls, it was everyone checking out everyone else. We were all changing and we wanted to know who was in the lead and who was lagging.
Yes. I remember this very exchange. It was an impressive insult…my son had "the gift" and it was being used on ME!
Occasionally, I would use the strip for a personal rant. I got my point across to my family in a way that was, perhaps, more palatable than the real thing. Not to say that I didn’t rant about this for real. I did. The best part of putting real feelings out there…was the response I got from readers who said how true it was. Some said they had given this strip to the guilty parties to show their frustration. I had put their and my feelings in print. Somehow, seeing a situation on the comics page legitimized it.
I remember my first kiss. It was in Teddy D’s attic. He and Joanne K and Terry M and myself were playing spin the bottle. When the bottle matched me up with Terry, we leaned forward and kissed on the lips. I remember the feeling. It was fast, dry, and his upper lip was really fuzzy.
These drawings were done before I began to pay real attention to anatomy. Check out the length of the kids’ arms. In real life their bodies would be impossibly long! As someone who once did anatomical drawings for a living, this surprises me!