Sometimes I think having a writer for a parent (let alone for two of your parents) is a form of child abuse. My long weekend was full of literary commentary from my four-year-old. Here are the best of the lot, verbatim:

If William Winkle (Wee Willie Winkie) comes while I’m sleeping and tries to shove me in his sack, will you and Mama S grab great big sticks and bash him like an enormous piñata?

Why do I always have to wear clothes when Mowgli (of Jungle Book fame) gets to go naked every day?

Little Red Riding Hood’s Mama should take her to an op shop so she can get some other different coloured hoods nice and cheap.

In real life, would Goldilocks go to jail?

So why do the other animals still always listen to Brer Anancy when all he does is trick them every day? Why don’t they learn?

Well, that was just rubbish, wasn’t it? If I was Rapunzel I would cut off my hair and make a ladder to climb out of there all on my own.

When you fall in love, does it hurt really badly? (then, at my perplexed look) I mean, when that fat little boy (Cupid) stabs you with the arrow?

Mum, I just made a book. I stapled it and everything and now we can have a launch and invite everyone over. The only thing that’s missing is one of those prizes on the front cover. Do we have a sticker to put on the front for a prize please? It’s a really good book so it needs a prize.

But I’m not Mali, I’m Jenny the Library Lady and it’s not time for my lunchbreak yet (busily checking out books with a ‘beeping stick’).

Did Nana really give you dessert every single night when you were little (dubiously)? Well, what about the nights she went out and did her poetry shows?

Maxine Beneba Clarke

Maxine Beneba Clarke is an Australian author and slam poet of Afro- Caribbean descent. Her short fiction collection Foreign Soil won the 2015 ABIA Award for Best Literary Fiction and the 2015 Indie Award for Best Debut Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize. Her memoir, The Hate Race, her poetry collection Carrying the World, and her first children’s book, The Patchwork Bike, will be published by Hachette in late 2016.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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  1. Damn straight Goldilocks would go to jail! Your four-year-old certainly has the measure of that toe-headed miscreant.

    My daughter (due in May) will have a linguist and a high school teacher for parents; both of whom are already viewing her as a little science project the try out various social theories on.

    By the way, my CAPTCHA words to type in were “poor neuters”. Should I read anything into that?

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