Thursday, May 5, 2011
My 8 yr old is doing her homework, which consists of putting vocabulary words into sentences. She stops writing and looks up at me. More often than not, she's in a dream state but at this moment her eyes are focused, lit up like headlamps in the middle of the night. "Mom, did you know that sometimes when you hear a sentence, you want to hear the whole story?"
I stop whatever it is I'm doing and study her. Is this something her teacher told her or am I experiencing her epiphany?
"Do you want to hear my sentence."
I want to shout, "Does a woman crap when she's giving birth?!" Instead I nod enthusiastically.
"Across the road there was a sidewalk and on that sidewalk was a mysterious box." Her voice is raspy and she injects each word with a heavy dose of cryptic rhythms.
The child is in elementary school and already knows about hooking a reader. Is that unusual? I'm tempted to say no. Most children, if left to their own abandon, often create spot-on, highly descriptive pictures of an imaginary world. So, what happens to these voices? What happens to one's song? How does it get stifled or, worse, extinguished? Is it one person who undermines our natural ability to express? Or is it a combination of negative experiences?
As if reading my mind, my daughter wants to know why it has taken me 40 some odd years to get cracking with a pen. I tell her that when I was younger I loved to write but that something happened to squelch it.
"What?" she demands.
Um, I don't know. I think I had a bad teacher.
She picks up her pen to finish her homework. After a few moments she looks up at me.
"I'm never going to let anyone stop me from writing. Ever."
Her words hit me with unexpected emotion. I don't think I've ever been more proud. I only hope she's right.