It has been a big year for the Dillard family. In a short span of five busy days, we graduated all three of our sons — our oldest from college and our twin sons from high school. And I guess you could say our family conversations have also “graduated.” We’ve gone from the early years with talk of playgrounds and farm animals to teenage topics like sports schedules and driver’s licenses to our current discussions on things like dorm life and 401(k)s.
As I take notes for this week’s blog post, I’ve been thinking back to when my own kids were picture book age. At the time, we were living in Lewisburg, a small, central Pennsylvania town. Our friendly borough was surrounded by rolling hills of farmland, and it was almost like living in the pages of a picture book. We would take the wagon to the farmer’s market every Wednesday. There were mornings of big wheel races down the sidewalk to preschool and afternoons of snowball fights at the bus stop. And there were picture books. We had stacks of them all around the house, ready not only for bedtime reading but also for any spur-of-the-moment storytimes, which happened quite often.
It was during this time that I created COWHIDE-AND-SEEK. I wasn’t even writing yet, but I woke up one night around 2am with the idea of a cow character who accidentally leaves her farm and (unknowingly) creates chaos wherever she goes. I loved it so much that I jumped out of bed and quickly wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget. The next day, I started writing.
My kids were Bessie’s first readers. And out of all my manuscripts, Bessie was always their favorite. Over the years, they witnessed how the story grew and changed, revision after revision (after revision!). So now, it seems fitting that as my kids graduate and move on to bigger things, my empty nest will soon be happily busy with my new “baby,” a picture book that they helped inspire, nurture, and celebrate alongside me. xoxo 🙂