Hey Kid! with Kate Foster (WINELL ROAD)
Dear 11-year-old me,
Let’s kick this off with a quick word about the nickname business you’re obsessing over. Gizmo Mogwai – ain’t gonna catch on. Sorry, but it just isn’t. And really, do you want people to associate you with a gremlin for the rest of your life? Thought not. Think potential boyfriends…
Also, all of the gymnastic-themed names, Flip, Split and the likes, I don’t think these are going to work, either. Stick with Kate. It’s a good name.
You love lists, right? Me too! They rule. Keeping life all neat and tidy and ordered. Everybody should like lists; everybody should write them. All hail the list!
Well, I’d like to run through one specific list you wrote not long ago. It’s the ‘Potential Careers’ list. It’s in the shoe box in the bottom right corner of your wardrobe, the box with the Bros stickers splattered all over it. Got it? Great, let’s start.
Mmm, interesting. Yes, you’re ridiculously pencilly thin. Yes, your skin is horribly flawless. But I’ve got this feeling there might be a height issue ready to stand in the way of your dream. I know, it’s going to be a tough pill to swallow, but there just aren’t many catwalk queens averaging little over five feet. For now, carry on swirling in front of the mirror and sauntering up and down in Mum’s heels, but be prepared to cross through this with a permanent red marker pen one day.
Oh, and please be careful in those heels. Specifically when you’re about fifteen on a night out with friends at the movies. Think stairs.
Awesome job, and you’d be just like Mum, your hero. But, I have this feeling you’re going to be an emotional individual; breaking down regularly over the smallest things, like…I don’t know…old people, sad adverts, tiny kids falling off bikes. And being a nurse is going to bring a lot of heartbreaking things into your life. I’d ponder this one for a little longer.
Excuse me while I wipe up the mouthful tea I just spat everywhere. Seriously girl, what are you thinking? You love tidying up, I know this, and it will be something that, at times, you have the potential to become ever so slightly obsessed about. You love lists, already mentioned, and neat piles, folded clothes, toys in boxes, shut doors and drawers, straight lines, corners, and…oops, sorry, I got carried away there. But have a quick peek at your bedroom. Yes, it’s clean, but is it REALLY clean? You know, dusted? Polished? Vacuumed? Noooo, it isn’t. And when this does happen, Mum does it. This is pretty much what being a cleaner will entail, all the things Mum does. Which brings me neatly on to the next point.
I believe you might have your fair share of cleaning in the future. I’m thinking out loud here, but boyfriend, marriage, babies. Babies who grow up to be dirty, smelly boys. Boys who produce poo-stained pants and filthy bedrooms. Heck, you might even have a dog one day, which equals fur, paw prints, slobber. Think gag-reflex. Enough said. So cross this one out. No, scrap that, rip it right off that bit of paper. (But make sure to put it in the bin.)
5: ‘Horse rider’
??? Is that even a job?
And we’ve landed. Why oh why are you embarrassed about your writing? Is it still because your brother laughed at that short story, Monty Mouse, all those years ago? Is it because the only other kids who like writing in your class also like to darn ballet shoes and collect toy buses? You’ve got to rise above it. Don’t you remember those five sparkling team points Mr Havard awarded you for The Space Rocket? A teacher who probably had a note from home to say he was allergic to team points and excitement. No one had ever seen him so worked up! And all because of those 500 and something words YOU put together. It’s a sign, I tell you, a sign!
Don’t shy away from being ‘different’, OK? Just don’t. Different is cool. And your imagination, your love of words, might just be the cure to your self-esteem issues. I’m saying, let YOU shine through, release the words.
It’s been a bumpy ride so far, I’m aware of that, and it’s likely to get even bumpier in the years to come. But there will be plenty of smooth riding as well. Times when containing your elation might prove too difficult. So don’t contain it, let it out; lap it up, swim in it. Life’s too short to wonder what if.
Good luck, my friend. Until later.
~From your 30-something-year-old self
Winell Road is the most boring street on Earth and 12-year-old Jack Mills is sick to his molars of living there. But when a UFO nearly abducts him outside his home, his life takes a terrifying and mysterious turn. With the help of his new friend and neighbour, frighteningly tall Roxy Fox, Jack discovers there’s a lot more to Winell Road and his life than he’d ever imagined.
Winell Road is available on Jetblack Publishing.
Find more Hey Kid! letters here.
| Foster is a freelance editor and children’s writer who likes lists. Originally from the UK, she now lives on the Gold Coast in Australia with her three sons, husband and spoodle. Winell Road, her debut middle grade novel will be released later this month. |
Connect with Kate on KateJFoster.com, Twitter, and Facebook.