Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
For Your Journal: Writing Prompt

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Do you keep a journal - or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help.

Three times a month, I'll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don't worry about grammar or punctuation - just write. Then let the writing simmer and your mind wander for awhile.

And who knows? Maybe you'll discover a character for your next short story or a theme for a narrative essay. Or maybe you'll use the idea to create a special holiday card or photo album for someone in your family. However you decide to use your journal entry, I know you'll enjoy re-reading it months--and years--down the road.

Grandma's teapot isn't the prettiest one in my collection, but it's the one I choose every time my four-year-old daughter and I "take tea."

Our parties are lavishly laid out on the floor of her bedroom, complete with cloth napkins and china plates. She sits with three strings of brightly colored beads around her neck, a jeweled tiara on her head, and Cinderella slippers on her feet. Her back straight, her pinkie finger extended, she begins our tea party with the regal elegance of Queen Victoria.

We fill our plates with grapes and vanilla wafers and, in our best English accents, continue discussing the weather and how it affects our plans for the rest of the day. After a sip of our chocolate milk "tea," she delicately dabs her lips with a napkin and lays her hands in her lap.

"What a pretty teapot you've chosen for today's party," she says. "That's Grandma's, isn't it?"

"Well, actually, this is my grandma's - your great grandma's - teapot."

She frowns and wrinkles her nose, trying to picture a woman she's never met.

"The grandma that had to pull feathers out of chickens?" She's dropped her pretend voice of royalty and is looking at me intently, waiting for more of an explanation.

Yes, I say, and we imagine what it was like to raise chickens and collect eggs, deciding that it must have been a smelly, messy job. Then we talk about how different life would be without microwaves, computers, and DVDs. I tell her that Great Grandma made some of the quilts we wrap around us when we watch TV and that the chocolate cake she likes so much is Great Grandma's recipe.

"I wish I could have met her." She sighs then quickly brightens. "But I have my grandma. Did she pull feathers out of chickens, too?" I'm pretty sure she did, but we decide to call and ask.

"Hi Grandma. We're having a tea party. Did you pull feathers out of chickens like Mom's Grandma did?" She stops to take a breath, and her eyes widen as she listens to Grandma's response.

"You did? Really?" She flashes me a smile. "They chased you around the yard? That's funny! Did they ever catch you?" Then her voice turns serious.

"No. I wouldn't like that either. I'd be scared too."

With the chicken-plucking question answered, their conversation turns present day. After five minutes, she says good- bye, hands me the phone, and, in her most serious voice, reports that Grandma told her to call anytime she wants to learn more about chickens.

Note: This text is part of a larger piece, published in Cup of Comfort for Grandparents (2006).

Journal Entry: Write about a conversation your child had with a grandparent. What specific question was asked and what details were shared? What prompted the question?

Karna ConverseĀ is a freelance writer who’s written everything from technical documentation and price proposals to newsletter articles, devotionals, personal profiles and essays. Her essays have been published in a variety of regional and national publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Notre Dame Magazine, the Cup of Comfort and Chicken Soup anthologies, Our Iowa, and on Iowa Public Radio. She and her husband are parents to three young adults. Karna is a former blog editor, senior editor, managing editor, and editor-in-chief of Literary Mama.

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