When preparing to bring the original “Scarlet’s Superpower” from 13 pages to 26, I was thinking of ways to beef-up the story. While I liked the simple story line, the text needed a little more meat to it. Should I develop characters more? Could we include additional ways that her superpower was utilized? My favorite idea was to show ways in which Scarlet’s ability to shut out noise by removing her coils could benefit her.
One morning, several years ago, I was driving Scarlet to her before school daycare when an idea hit me: What if Scarlet used her superpower to avoid hearing bullies belittling her? We could begin the book with her wanting to take a nap. She could query about sleeping on a mat in the infant room of her daycare, at the end of the first day of school. Older kids; kids Scarlet’s age; could see and hear this, and they would tease, “Look at Scarlet. What a baby.”
Scarlet would NOT hear this teasing, though. She would have already removed her coils. She can’t hear anything–nothing–when she takes her coils off of her head. So, exhausted Scarlet lies down, innocent and thankful for peace and quiet.
The teacher, on the other hand, hears these older kids teasing Scarlet. Because the facility has a “Zero Tolerance” (no teasing) policy, the teacher reports the miscreants to the person in charge of the daycare. They get in trouble.
I’m not sure if Scarlet finds out about the bullying behavior or not, but by the end of the book she helps these kids, using her superpower. They admire both her ability to forgive and the power to NOT hear.
Here are a couple of the problems with this beginning.
While I like using more than one setting for the story, having Scarlet attend a daycare could paint her as privileged; Her family is wealthy enough to send her there.
I could explain that Mommy and Daddy make just barely enough money to have her attend, and need her to, so that they can work the jobs that pay for her attendance, basically breaking even. This circumstance would explain away the idea of private child care being a symbol of wealth; It is a shackle (Fetters, 2020). A surprising 57% of the working population of America pay more than $10,000 a year for child care (30+ Essential US Child Care Statistics : Availability, Costs, and Trends – Zippia, n.d.).
Additionally, Scarlet attending a daycare categorizes her as lucky. According to 30+ Essential US Child Care Statistics : Availability, Costs, and Trends – Zippia, “51% of Americans live in communities classified as child care deserts“ (n.d.). I do not want someone to come across “Scarlet’s Superpower,” and think to themselves, what an entitled, lucky, rich brat.
Obviously, I am totally overthinking the situation. Some kids go to daycare. Some don’t. The kids who don’t go to daycare know about others who do. Is the situation relatable? That is the question. Can readers visualize kids making fun of Scarlet for wanting to take a nap? I think so.
30+ Essential US Child Care Statistics : Availability, Costs, And Trends – Zippia. (n.d.). 30+ Essential US Child Care Statistics : Availability, Costs, and Trends – Zippia. Retrieved January 10, 2023, from https://www.zippia.com/advice/us-child-care-availability-statistics/
Fetters, A. (2020, January 18). The Working-to-Afford-Child-Care Conundrum. Working to Afford Child Care so You Can Work – the Atlantic. Retrieved January 10, 2023, from https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/01/working-afford-child-care-so-you-can-work/605206/
U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2021). Early Childhood Program Participation: 2019 (NCES 2020-075REV), Table 1.