Friday, August 13, 2021

Leaving the Nest is Fearless by Marilyn Barr #FearlessFriday #shifters


Please welcome back Marilyn Barr to Fearless Friday on Discover... I think we all have to be fearless in raising children, in guiding young people, and letting go. You'll enjoy Marilyn's post about that kind of fearlessness.

               Do you remember the first time you traveled without your guardians? For me, it was the eighth-grade trip to Washington D.C. There were over 1800 eighth grade kids in my school so we were divided into teams of one hundred with an army of chaperones. Next, I traveled with the marching band to Disney World to march in the parade for their new movie “The Lion King”. Both trips were a test of my responsibility, organization, money management skills, and street smarts. This was before the days of cell phones, so staying with the group and utilizing the buddy system to go to the bathroom was a survival skill.

               My son is a homeschooler, and unless another parent organizes such a trip, he will not get the experience of traveling without my husband and me. Since he was deemed “too sick for school” in 2013, the helicopter mom in me is relieved, but those trips serve a purpose in fostering independence. How can I expect him to move into a college dorm when he’s never been out of my sight? When mulling over parental decisions, I turn to my fictional town of Strawberry, KY. In the book series, my son is four years older but otherwise is true to real life. The character Henrik is homeschooled in a rural setting with another family with six boys, ranging in age from twenty to twelve. 

              I could use these characters to test out different scenarios for my son’s independent experiences, starting with a guy who leaves home for the first time at twenty. I had to create a need to send them somewhere, so all my worst- and best-case scenarios could play out in safety. Here’s how Susie the dolphin-shifter explains my plan in Smoother Than Spumoni:

“While exposing our secret to the world would make us instant science projects, having an incestuous community is, well, gross. Some generations back, we joined a league of shifter packs for more social opportunities like summer internships for shifters my age. Luckily for me, none of the other packs have the same DNA lineage.”

               The first victim…I mean intern is Frank Paulino Junior. When the werewolf pack’s father passed away, many of the responsibilities fell onto Frank’s shoulders. All the boys help to run the family’s pizzeria which is the social hub for the tiny town, but Frank took over the books. Throughout the Strawberry Shifters series, we have seen Frank tackle the bookkeeping, be a role model for his brothers, provide a shoulder for his mother to cry on, and kick Sluagh butt. However, we have never seen him have fun. So where should I send him? I reveal my plan in Strawberry Shifters Book 2: Round of Applause:

               “It is what’s best for him and most importantly, it is what he wants. He’s only nineteen but has held the responsibilities of a man twice his age. He has earned a break, so I’m requesting he go to the Florida pack unless their leader is a jerk. I would like to think of Frankie smiling down on his son while Junior frolics on a beach.”

               With his internship set at Bart’s Oyster Bar on the coast of Seagrass Island in Tampa Bay, FL, I could let my imagination run wild. Like any mom, I would hope my son found friends, fun, and new skills while away. I would want him to spend his time learning to surf, swim in the ocean, and applying sunscreen. However, this might have been too much to ask of Frank. He claps back my ideas in Smoother Than Spumoni:

      “Every day someone tells me to lighten up, but I’m not wired that way. I work. I take care of my brothers. It was a conspiracy between my mother and pack leader to send me here to learn to play. They thought the ocean would bring out a carefree side I don’t possess.”

               Sorry Frank but don’t forget the author of your book in that conspiracy. Poor Frank is not only unprepared for unstructured fun but meets up with my worst nightmares as a parent too. While on a date, he discovers a conspiracy to pollute Tampa Bay and cover it up with a natural phenomenon called “Red Tide”.  Danger lurks around every corner. With his inability to swim, how can this sheltered werewolf keep his head above water? With the help of his perfect match, Susie Larkin, heiress to the humble Larkin’s Dairy Dip.

               “‘See, absolutely beautiful,’ he says, grasping my chin between his thumb and index finger. The adoration on his face warms me to my toes while his other hand captures my jaw. He tilts his head and my world tilts on its axis. I close my eyes when his eyelashes flutter down.”

With instant chemistry between the two workaholic curmudgeons, his internship isn’t all bad. A dolphin shifter can not only keep him afloat but also entertained with serious discussions on dairy price points in the restaurant industry. Travel with Frank and relive your first trip outside of your parent’s reach. Wearing water wings would make his mother happier, but they would impede Frank’s ability to be Smoother Than Spumoni, coming to The Wild Rose Press on 8/23/2021. 

On Pre-order sale for $1.99 on Amazon and iTunes.

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  1. Thank you for hosting Frank Jr, Susie, and me!

  2. Yep, it's important for kids to spread their wings when they're young so they can fly solo later!

    1. Poor Frank didn't have the scaffolding experiences before being cast out of the nest. I'm definitely learning from this fictional family.

  3. I think it is important for kids to learn how to be independent. Best on the book!

    1. Absolutely. I loved responsibility growing up. My son - not so much. He needs to be pushed a little.

  4. Enjoyed the post. It is scary, for the child on their own for the first time and for the parent. Your book sounds great. Interesting premise. Congrats and best wishes!

  5. Thank you so much, Alicia! It is scary, so I'm glad to have a fictional world to play out scenarios.

  6. Interesting question! Our school didn't have any out-of-town trips that I participated in (maybe the sports teams or the band had them -- I wouldn't know). So unless you count an overnight beach party with a church group -- lots of "guardians"! -- my first trip without my parents was my honeymoon. :) I got married at age 18.