It’s late April in New England, the kind of Saturday afternoon that makes you glad to be alive. Felix has a friend over, and they are out in the backyard pummeling one another with Nerf foam swords and sending the kickball over the fence into the neighbors’ yard. As first grade boys are wont to do.
Damselfly Inn has been out for ten days or so, and I’m working on emails and other book promoting things at my computer when the boys crash inside looking for snacks. I set them up at the kitchen table with Goldfish crackers and apple cider, and keep working. My writing desk is right there, so I can supervise and occasionally join in the conversation.
“Mama,” says Felix, “can you get the ball from the neighbors’ yard?”
“In a minute. I need to finish up this email, then I can walk around and get it. Is it in the side one or the back one?” (We are surrounded on three sides by other homes, and to get to them, you have to go around by the busy street because of fences.)
“The back one.”
“What are you doing?” asks Felix’s friend.
“Writing emails about my new book,” I say. “Just some business stuff.”
“My mom writes inappropriate books,” says my son. His friend’s eyes go wide.
“Well, Felix, that’s not exactly true.” I can just imagine how this turns into playground telephone, and suddenly I am the porn writing parent at PTO events.
“Yes, it is.” He is gearing up to make a case. I can see it in his posture. “I tried to read it one time when you were working and you told me it wasn’t for kids. It’s inappropriate.”
His friend is still bug-eyed.
“Okay, yes. Most of my books are not for kids to read. But they are perfectly appropriate for grown-ups, which is who they are intended for.”
He shakes his head at me in resignation, pushes his chair out and says to his friend, “Inappropriate. Are you done? Let’s go back outside.”
What else, besides going around the fence to retrieve the lost kickball, is a romance-writing mom to do?