I went to Samoa for a four day whirlwind book tour that included school and library visits, a book signing, writing workshop, and more. I took Big Daughter with me. She was my designated “tour assistant.” My helper. My photographer and video documenter. My right hand. My bestest buddy. That friendly, smiley, personable young woman who helps her author mother to promote her new book.
Standing in line at Auck Airport and she complained profusely about how heavy her bag was. (She had to put all her clothes into her carry bag because none of us had any real luggage. Instead of suitcases, we checked in boxes of books.) Her Dad had to carry her bag. And his bag. So she could meander along. Looking for books to buy to read on the plane. (Correction – looking for books that her father could buy for her to read on the plane.)
Ezra Taylor is on the same flight as us. He greets Big Daughter. She barely notices because she is submerged in a book. Reading. Reading. Reading. There is no sign of that ‘friendly, smiley, personable’ young woman who is suppposed to be acccompanying me on my book trip.
On the plane and half-way to Samoa, the Hot Man reminds her she’s supposed to be taking photos of the trip. She exclaims, “Oh, I forgot the camera at home.” She doesnt look very sorry at all. Back to reading, reading. If you hoped to see some photos of our trip? We don’t have any.
We arrive. First on the program is a television interview at TV3 Samoa. Big Daughter is helpful and interested. But later that night when the interviews screen she tells me – “You talk too much. You look funny on TV. Why cant you answer questions like Ezra does? His interview was very good.” Thank you Assistant for your assistance.
Next on the program is a radio interview early in the morning at Magik FM. Big Daughter is helpful and interested. Until radio staff want to take pictures and talk to her. Then she gets surly and tries to disappear. “I dont want to be in any photos.Why do they want to talk to me for?” There is no sign of friendly, smiley, personable-ness.
We go to Samoa College. My puletasi skirt is held up with lots of safety pins because it’s too big for me. (Thank you Jenny Craig.) The skirt keeps threatening to fall down. I have visions of it falling down – right when I stand up to speak to an assembly of students – and me being way too nervous to even notice that I’m skirt-less. I ask Big Daughter, “Can you please keep checking that my skirt isn’t falling down? Just in case?” She says, “Why do I have to do that for? Besides, Im standing at the back of the hall, filming you guys. I’ll be too busy. Why are you wearing a skirt that doesnt fit you properly anyway?” Thank you Assistant for our assistance. I ask Mr Taylor to please let me know if I have a wardrobe malfunction during our presentation. He looks vaguely alarmed at the prospect. I think he even moves several more feet away. Probably wondering how in the heck he ended up here talking to students with this wacky woman and her safety-pinned skirt. Wondering how can he escape from this nightmare. Thankfully nothing malfunctions. After our speeches, we chat with students. They want to chat with Big Daughter. Especially since I told them all that she helps me write the Telesa books. They’re excited. Big Daughter isn’t. Surly face. She whispers fiercely, “I dont want to be in any photos or talk to anyone.”
We go to the book signing. Four hours on a hot Samoan afternoon, greeting people, signing their books, chatting about the Trilogy, taking photos. The team at Samoa Stationery Bookstore is very helpful. They bring cold drinks. They smile. Big Daughter sits inside the whole time. In the air condition. Reading, reading. The bookstore staff tell me “Don’t worry, we are taking care of her. She has drinks and snacks and we told her to choose whatever books she wants to have from the shop.” I am so glad that my Assistant is having a lovely time. Thank you Assistant for the assistance. When the event is done, friends and family try togreet her with hugs and kisses. She is submerged in a book. Reading reading.
It continues over the next two days. The girl who is so clever she’s in the gifted program at her school looks vacantly at me when I ask her to write invoices, because she’s trying to read a book. Asks “How much is the total for six books at forty tala?” For some strange reason, she is not interested in listening to her mother speak at another school. Or make a presentation of books at the public library. She flat out refuses to go to the High Tea at Plantation House. Because she says “thats so boring”. Instead she sits in the house and reads. Thank you Assistant for the assistance. Then, to top it all off – my wonderful Assistant accidentally deletes all the footage from the book tour off our video camera. Just. Great.
I am not very impressed with my Assistant’s assistance.I am annoyed and frustrated with her. The Hot Man patiently mediates between us. Tells me to be more patient, more nicer to our daughter. The two of them get lunch and chat and have great times together. Wthout me. The meanie mother. I meet up with a friend of mine who comments, “I met your daughter at the book signing. She is EXACTLY like you when you were her age.” Huh? “She didn’t like it when I hugged her. She didn’t want to be disturbed from her book. She didnt like smiling. She hides shyness with a distant, almost stand-offish expression. You were like that at school. I remember. And you still dont like lots of socializing or hugging either. And when you’re reading a book, nobody can connect with you at all.” I thought about it and realized that my friend was exactly right.
Big Daughter is A LOT like me. And the things that are the most like me? Are the things that irritated me the most on this book trip. How can I expect Big Daughter to be the epitome of friendliness, sociability, and cheerfulness – when I sure as heck aint?
Such revelations are most unwelcome.
I’m going to go read a book now. And practise smiling. And on the next book tour? I might have to take Little Son who is friendliness personified. The child who tells random women in airports, “I like your hair. You’re so pretty….do you have any lollies?” Yes, Im sure his approach will go down very well with readers. Except I will tell him to ask for donuts and Hostess cupcakes instead.
|Can you see Big Daughter in this picture? No. Neither can I.
|She’s not in this one either.
Or this one.
Aha! there she is.
As you can see, she’s happy to smile when she’s with her super awesome Dad. Huge thanks to the Hot Man for keeping the peace between me and Big Daughter!
You can read more about our trip to Samoa to release ‘When Water Burns’ at the following links:
The Samoa Observer
. Talamua Online News