Everyone was six once, or will be soon. And granted that there’s as much variation in six-year-olds as in seventy-seven-year-olds—and even with this guy it changes day to day. Still, I’m asking the question: what’s it like to be six?
Our current fiction project MASKS is a narration by a forty-year-old from the point of view of himself at the age of six. But for me, it’s been a long time since I was he, and though I’ve had two kids it’s been a while. So, beyond referencing child-development books (which can be useful) and simply making stuff up, I’d like to put the question out to the world.
Our character is a boy, and gender differences may be profound, but there are surely commonalities. So I’m asking: can you share any observations or memories of your child at this age? Memories of yourself? Incidents, challenges, confusions, discoveries?
Anything you can share—on the understanding that it may be translated (anonymously) into the mind of a boy in 600 C.E. traveling up the Adriatic coast in a donkey cart with his performer-family?
My own recollection is scant. Confusion, always. As the child of a single mom in dire straits, always a concern about money, and a terrible sense of not knowing how to pull my share of the load. Great fear of being in our two-room shack alone between end of school and time she got off work—babysitters proving very problematic. Intense love of our cocker spaniel. Mediocre at sports, but loving fantasy play, especially getting shot and temporarily killed. The usual playmates, but avoided groups: once the neighborhood kids herded all the stray dogs into a garage and painted them with house paint; I stayed away. Hated my grandmother for the way she criticized my mom, but loved her fried chicken on Sunday—and watching her wring off the chicken’s head. Very selfish, and felt guilty at being selfish.
Some things have changed, some haven’t. I recall trying to make some money by bending the leftover wires of sparklers into jewelry and laying them out by the sidewalk to sell for a nickel. No customers, but good preparation for a career as a writer.
Anything to share?