Published on June 20th, 2023 | by Jessica Bell


Perception and Reality Are Not the Same

My sweet 14-month-old son gave me a kiss out of the blue this morning… while he stuck a piece of apple in my cleavage.

I posted that on Facebook in December 1, 2020. Since then, I have posted every fantastically funny and smart thing my son Madoc says and does, to the delight of my followers. Many have asked me to compile a book of them. But as I started compiling the manuscript, one thing became very clear: these sorts of things are only funny the first time around, and it would feel like one of those photo memory books one puts together for their family. So, what I started doing instead was reunite myself with poetry, a form of writing I’d not practiced in almost ten years. I used my son’s utterances and behavior as inspiration.

[Construction sounds pound 9 am sharp.]

Madoc: What’s that?

Me: Banging upstairs from workers.

Madoc: It’s a heartbeat in building.

25 November, 2021

Once I started, I couldn’t stop. My son was a fountain of ideas and I didn’t even have to throw in any coins. The poems came naturally. Themes of motherhood, nature, connection, and the unreliability of one’s perception’ dominated my work, and even prompted me to reevaluate how I perceived certain aspects of our world and how they affected my life.

Madoc: (points water gun towards open window and looks at me)

Me: Please don’t squirt it inside.

Madoc: Why?

Me: Because there are things in there that shouldn’t get wet.

Madoc: Why?

Me: Because they are connected to electricity and you might destroy them. Please. Promise me you won’t squirt it in the window.

Madoc: Okay, I promise. But I’ll do it by accident.

September 11, 2022

I’ve always been a strong believer in the fact that nothing is what it seems, so it is no surprise that the poems in this collection always end in a way that turns a reader’s perception of a poem on its head. I’m fascinated by how we all walk this earth with preconceived ideas about everything, and very rarely open our minds to the possibility that our preconceived notions aren’t simply black or white.

Dad: You’re very quiet. Are you okay?

Madoc: Yes, I’m okay. I have bones in my body and blood in my body, so of course I’m okay.

October 22, 2022

My son inspires me to change my mind on a daily basis. He makes me more mindful of my everyday actions, thoughts, and feelings, and more accepting when things don’t go my way. As we interact during our playtime, I am in awe over how his perception of his toys  changes depending on his mood. One day his blue truck is a police truck and is going to hunt and arrest the thief who’s driving the fire truck, and the next it’s a killer whale in disguise who is looking for his cat… poor cat, it’s a sad cat and he needs a hug. Likewise, I love the way he sees things as they are without sugarcoating anything. Something we (wrongly or rightly?) learn to do as we grow older so as not to offend anybody.

Me: Look Madoc! Should we get some Christmas tea? It’s got Santa on the box.

Madoc: (grabs box enthusiastically, then tsks) That’s not Santa. It’s a just a man with a red shirt.

December 22, 2022

I struggle with always having too much to do, workwise and at home. Since I work from home, the two come hand in hand and it’s difficult to compartmentalize. This leads to stress and bad moods on my part that affect everyone in my little family. About a year ago, the responsibility of having to look after my son was a part of that stress, until I changed my perspective. Instead of looking at my son’s needs as part and parcel of my daily routine, I started looking at it as respite from my daily routine. When I’m with my son, I try my best to remove my thoughts on work, music, writing, household maintenance and other obligations in this adult life. Now, I imagine a bubble around us, no matter what we are doing. It could be something fun, like a day trip to the beach, or something menial, like bath time. No matter the circumstances, it is just me and my son, together. Talking, laughing, cracking jokes, hugging, singing. He is always fully present in those moments with me. The least I can do in return is be present for him. If I’m not, I’m very quickly pulled right back into the present with, “Mummy, I’m talking to you.”

Madoc: Mummy, why are your legs prickly?

Me: Because the hair is growing back.

Madoc: Are you becoming a man?

January 10, 2023

Within this broad theme of perception, I also explore nature vs. human spirit: how we connect with nature, ignore it, sway alongside it, listen to it, be motivated and inspired by it, be scolded by it, learn from it, BE it. We go through life taking the outside world for granted. We also take our inside world for granted. Who are we to judge whether trees, for example, have no feelings? Nothing in this world is 100% fact.

Madoc accidentally knocked over his glass of fresh mixed juice, which was slightly brown because it had celery in it. Of all things to compare it to: “That looks like dinosaur shit.”

January 23, 2023

Now before you judge me, I’m not preaching here or believing anything specific. I’m just exploring and keeping an open mind to the possibilities of our world. It may seem like a fantasy to believe that trees have feelings like love and regret, but no matter how unlikely something seems, I still refuse to close my mind to possibilities simply because we are conditioned to think in a certain way. In the grander scheme of things, we know nothing. We believe. We can be convinced and persuaded about certain things. But we will never truly know anything.

Dad: Don’t go on the back balcony, it’s very dangerous and if you fall, you’ll die.

Madoc: And there’s lots of bird shit.

March 7, 2023

With this attitude I am able to better handle conflict with my son. I’m better able to open my mind to his needs and follow his lead. He wants to wear nail polish? So what? I let him explore it. He now goes to the park flaunting his red nails and long blond hair. He gets called a girl often, but he has the confidence to correct them. He says, no, I’m rock ‘n’ roll. He wants to push my buttons by doing something I tell him not to do? Like crumble polystyrene all over the floor? I pause and see where he takes it, keeping an eye on him to not swallow it. I might actually learn something. Like the fact that he will now listen to reason. He keeps the mess to one small area of the room and lets me clean it up at night. He wants to eat the pulp instead of drink the juice? Never mind! Some extra fiber! And extra laughs.

If life wasn’t so full of ‘shoulds’ maybe we’d enjoy it more. The mind is a powerful tool. We really can make the world what we want it to be within the confines of our own environment.

No touching oil and cars. No touching rain. No touching castles. And no touching beer.

March 3, 2023

Whenever my son gets on my nerves, I ask myself: What’s going to happen if I drop my expectations and just go with the flow? If the answer doesn’t include injuries or hospital, then I let go and fly alongside him. My learned perceptions have begun to change and evolve. I have become more relaxed and accommodating, which also makes my son more relaxed and accommodating. And that unconditional love actually feels how it’s supposed to feel: unconditional.

Madoc: Can I have a rice cracker with chocolate?

Me: Do you promise to be a really really good boy if I give you one?

Madoc: That would be strange.

Me: What would be strange?

Madoc: Me being really really good boy.

March 25, 2023

My son isn’t often a really really good boy, but he’s definitely a really really smart boy. My son’s first phrase was ‘half a moon’ at eleven months old. Now at three and half, he likes to point out when it’s full. And that daddy is going to travel there and find all the friendly aliens to take care of us. There are dinosaurs, too. They look like tigers. But they’re friendly tiger-looking dinosaurs and they like to give hugs and kisses and to hold our hands so it’s safe for all of us to cross the road. I like my son’s world. So, I wrote about it. Sort of. I wrote about my own world too, as a parent. Sort of. And yours.

It all depends on how you perceive it.

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About the Author

Jessica Bell is a multi-award-winning author/poet and singer-songwriter who was born in Melbourne, Australia.

In addition to having published a memoir, five novels, three poetry collections, and her bestselling Writing in a Nutshell series, she has been featured in a variety of publications and radio shows such as Writer’s Digest, Publisher’s Weekly, The Guardian, Life Matters, and Poetica.

She is also the Publisher of Vine Leaves Press, and a highly sought-after book cover designer. She currently resides in Athens, Greece, with her partner and son, and a pile of dishes that still don’t know how to wash themselves despite her consistently teaching by example.

For more information visit:

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