Some of the most important ideas and conversations have happened in the bathtub around our house. Many of these have involved my daughter. The tally of uncomfortable conversations that she has caused from her relaxed position in a bathtub has grown exponentially over the years. Though I’m sure those conversations will one day be embarrassing fodder for my writing, only one has become the subject of my writing now.
When she was two and a half, I couldn’t get her to get out the bathtub. From the first time I’d carefully filled the tub with water and allowed her to sit in it on her own, her chubby hands had discovered the glorious delight of splashing it all over the floor and walls, and she loved it. But as a baby getting her out was easy, except for a few tears.
It’s when we reached toddlerhood that getting her out became more of an ordeal. To combat this obstacle, I began telling her stories, and the rule was when the story was finished, it was time to get out of the tub. We began with princesses and princes and unicorns because that was the interest of the time after a Disney World trip.
The problem was she wanted a different story each time; different characters and different situations every night. I soon exhausted my ideas on royalty being in danger and being rescued. Not to mention my boredom with these stories had reached optimum levels.
So after night after night of repeated requests for the Princess who found a unicorn, I told her I was going to tell her something different. And the first idea I had after my brilliant outburst was Cara the Pirate. Each night Cara went on a new adventure that I’d tell her while she played in the tub.
As she grew older, she added her own ideas to the story. She’d stop me and say no, I want this to happen instead. Even now, over four years later, she comes in when I’m in the bathtub and asks for a Cara the Pirate story, and her ideas on what should happen are specific. We’ve created the bad guys, the ships, the maps, and the little pieces of the story over the years.
When Muddy Bayou came out, she continually asked where was her book. Why hadn’t I written her stories down?
Years of telling these stories orally had developed these characters, but not to the extent that I create characters for other stories.
And if I were to write it down, I wanted to give her a story to grow into. Cara the Pirate had existed for a toddler, and Cara the girl is growing up. How would I make the stories, the memories that these stories left behind, last for years to come for her?
So Cara the Pirate was a Christmas present to my daughter. A brand new story with characters to grow with her, written for her, of course. But even she wants to share it with everyone. So I hope everyone enjoys it as much as she did. Though for me, the stories still exist in the bathtub. Where some of her best childhood memories sit.