Monday, Jul 13, 2020
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V’ajha Clarke illustrates cover of mom’s book

The cover of Vanessa Clarke’s book, “The Children’s Den – A Mother’s Diary”, which features tales of the author’s daughters, V’ajha, 12, and seven-year-old V’lori. The cover illustration was drawn by V’ajha, a self-taught artist at just 11 years old, from a picture at left. VANESSA CLARKE

V’ajha Clarke continues to showcase her illustration talents, this time she has illustrated the cover of her mom Vanessa Clarke’s newest book “The Children’s Den – A Mother’s Diary” which showcases a drawing of the 12-year-old and her baby sister V’lori, seven, from a picture.

“The Children’s Den – A Mother’s Diary” is a compilation of short, true stories featuring V’ajha and V’lori over the past 10 years, and the many precocious things the siblings have said and done throughout their childhood.

“The Children’s Den – A Mother’s Diary”, Clarke says, is sure to make you laugh.

“It’s like the Bahamian version of the popular family show ‘Kids Say the Darndest Things’ and it’s bound to have you rolling over in laughter,” said Clarke.

If V’ajha, a seventh-grade student at St. Paul’s Methodist College, knew some of the stories her mom was going to share about her exploits in her younger days, that she did not even remember, the self-taught artist may have begged off lending her talent to the beautiful cover which is a drawing of the two sisters.

One story Clarke shares about V’ajha – who is Grand Bahama’s top student in the Bahamas Primary School Student of the Year program 2019 and also Walter Parker Primary School’s valedictorian 2019, graduating with a 3.94 grade point average – recalls the time when V’ajha thought she could get one over on her mom when it came to reading time. Clarke entitled the piece “The Garden of Eden”; the scenario took place when V’ajha was just six years old.

“Ooh my six-year-old thinks she is so smart. Summer vacation has begun, but I told her she has to read one story per day and then come and tell me what it is all about. So, today’s story was about the Garden of Eden. Clearly, she did not read the story, but, in her little mind, she decided that she would try to swing me so that she could go back to playing games on the computer. Three minutes after getting the book she comes to my room… ‘Mommy, I’m finished!’ So, I said, V’ajha, tell me what the story was about.”

V’ajha: Oh, it was a beautiful garden that God made and it had tall trees, and bushes and plenty of flowers.

Me: But tell me what was the story about?

V’ajha: Ahhh…the flowers, the trees and waterfalls in the garden.

Me: So, V’ajha, what did God say to the man and the woman in the Garden of Eden?

V’ajha: Well, ahhh…ummm…he told them to ummm get some seeds…and ahhh put them in the ground and ummm…get some, some water and the sun will shine on it…and just wait for the seed to grow…and ummm…they’ll have more flowers and plenty trees.

Me: (Faint) V’ajha do not play with me. (Killing myself laughing.) You better go back and read that story ya’ hear!

Clarke recounts an incident with her then three-year-old baby, which she titled “V’lori strikes again!”

“I had to pick up the children early on Friday, and from the minute they arrived in the car, they were making demands of me. I got fed up and told the baby she was now the mommy – and not me. As I ranted on, she kept saying, ‘Nooo! You are the mom, and I am the baby.’ When they got home, same thing – mommy this and mommy that, do this and do that. And I kept saying to V’lori, I am not the mommy today. I am the baby today. ‘Mom,’ she responded again, ‘nooo – you are the mom and I am the baby. You are not the baby.’ So, when evening came, same thing – mommy come do this and that and make this, fix that. So, I said to V’lori again in a very loud voice, ‘I am not the mommy. You are the mommy and I am the baby.’ V’lori responded: ‘Well, go to your bed!’”

And then there’s the time both her girls teamed up to gang up on mom when it came to bath time in a story she titled “In Hot Water”.

“So, this little brazen thing almost got a beating, but I was laughing too hard. Anyway, we are still having Hurricane Matthew issues – power is off and it was a very hot day, so I decided not to bother heating up any water for the girls to bathe. So, I threw them in a tub of cold water and started bathing the baby. They started complaining about how cold the water was and I told them it would only be cold for a while and it will feel warm after a while.”

V’lori: Well, you ain’ feelin’ it! (Scoops up cold water in her hands and douses me three times back to back.)

Me: (In shock by the child’s intelligence and the cold water…burst out laughing).

“So V’ajha ga’ holler out, ‘Well I might as well join in!’ Then they both gang up on me and started throwing that cold water on me and killing themselves laughing. I could not catch. And I get wet right up. The water was so cold!”

And then there’s the time she didn’t want to share a treat with her child and which she recounts in a story titled “I Don’t Share Cheesecake”.

“So, last night I cut me a nice slice of cheesecake with cherries on top. I could not wait to sink my teeth into it – but then I realized someone was watching me salivate over this cheesecake. Hmmm.”

V’lori: Mommy, what’s that?

Me: (Not wanting to share it with her). Ohhhh, it’s an alligator.

V’lori: Oooh alligator? I love alligators. In fact, alligator is my favorite snack.

Clarke said she wrote the book because she wanted to do something beautiful for her amazing daughters, who she says are the joy of her world.

“I have always treasured the time I spend with my girls, and some family and friends have even criticized that I take too much pictures and too many videos and have too much Facebook posts about my children – but they are mine,” Clarke said with a laugh.

“I have taken many of those hilarious posts about raising my daughters and the great times we shared as a family, and immortalized our wonderful memories in a cute little book. One day I just may be gone, but they will always have those memories that I preserved and they will see just how much their mother loves them and that that love is forever,” said Clarke who has had her fair share of health challenges in recent times, diagnosed with a neurological disorder in April 2019 and confined to a wheelchair as a result.

Clarke hopes “The Children’s Den – A Mother’s Diary” would encourage parents to spend more time with their children to “grow” more memories, and to capture those memories in photos, videos and books.

“I wrote the book for parents, really – but the children who got their hands on it have not been able to put the book down. That made me feel so good,” said Clarke. “I think they are drawn to the stories where these girls outsmart their father and I all the time. Even when V’ajha read it, she killed herself laughing and asked, ‘Mom, did we really do you like this?’”

Clarke said they really did, and that every story in the book is true.

The mother said “The Goldbergs” is one of her favorite television shows because it features many childhood stories of the show’s creator.

“I fall out laughing during every episode. But guess what – we all have stories like that – about growing up, and the crazy things we did and said to our parents and vice versa. These stories ought to be shared, not only to capture history and lighthearted memories, but to brighten up somebody’s day,” said Clarke, who is a radio personality, journalist, author and award-winning gospel singer.

“The Children’s Den – A Mother’s Diary” was published by Amazon.

Lifestyles Editor at The Nassau Guardian
Shavaughn Mossjoined The Nassau Guardianas a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor.Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics.
Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.
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