My daughter Emma, 16 and finishing up the quarter in her first creative writing class, asked for my help last night. Instead of an exam, she’s responsible for writing a short story with very specific criteria that would equal her exam grade, and she asked if I would read it through and give her some feedback…I did. Not much feedback to provide actually, but we did have a lively discussion about how to best convey and word things to get a certain ideas across…
Now things, in truth, have not been all roses and sunshine between Miss Emma and I lately, for one she’s 16 and for another I’m fighting a disease that not only scares the shit out of her and me but requires her to do some things the average carefree 16-year-old need never worry about… so we’ve had a bit of rocky road of late, a clashing of minds, a couple of knock-down drag-outs…and a few times I wondered if she was going to make it into the long-term not to mention even into the next few hours.
I worry constantly if I’ve taught her enough, if she’s been listening because there’s an outside chance that I might not be around as long as she needs me. Granted the plan is for me to be around at least another 50 years…but I work to cover all contingencies. I’ve always made sure to teach her to take care of herself…she knows enough to feed herself…and well at that (her chili and mac n’ cheese are things of beauty!), she can do laundry very well…I *think* she’s knows how to clean…she’ll demonstrate it if the need becomes necessary, although long-term gotta say the jury might still be out on that one…
However the thing I worry most about is that she get a good education and go to College, so she can pick the job she loves and her amazing intelligence deserves, and she never has to settle like I did. Us ADD’ers don’t do all that well in the corporate world…and the collegiate world being composed of 125% red tape is not easy to navigate.
She and I are a lot alike…in looks, in mannerisms, in brain power. The one area I worry about though is determination…I’m the dog with the bone and can make anything happen, truly. Maybe that’s a by-product of confidence…maybe.
A lot of making things happen is communication and determination, which when I look to her for evidence of that in our every day exchanges…”Mother”!!! and “Whateverrrr!!!” don’t do a lot to instill in me that she can navigate the real world situations that are the things that can really wreak havoc in your life, like snarky, misogynistic bosses, creepy issue ridden boyfriends, infuriating nasty low IQ civil servants, frustrating and infuriating college road blocks…and need I mention the DMV??
You have to really be on your game to navigate those type of situations and words and demeanor help you do it.
Anyway…after she was finished editing her paper, she asked KP to read it, and I said “why don’t you read it out loud?” (that way I’d get to hear it again too…) and she did. And as she did I almost started to cry. Dear reader…I’ve been a reader for years now. It’s one of my favorite things to do, I usually have any where from 1-4 books going at a time, and I have read it all, from the classics, to the library, to the trash to blogs, to cereal boxes to books I surreptitiously purchase at Walgreens when I have run out of reading material. Just to give you an idea I have read over 160 books alone in the last two months. I know of what I speak.
And as she’s reading, I am floored. I am amazed…I am not 100% certain, but I am 99% certain that she was channeling the level of F. Scott Fitzgerald in my kitchen, but not F. Scott Fitzgerald, a female sensitized version of F. Scott Fitzgerald, filled with dynamic, at times, almost quaint words used to get a very timely modern idea across, metaphors that sung and insinuated…I was in absolute awe and so was KP.
When she was done I told her it was amazing! I said ” You know that reminded me a lot of F. Scott Fitzgerald but better somehow! ” The look on her face was priceless then she said “I love him! the Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books, what a great compliment Mom!!”. I could see that flicker of self-confidence build and right at that moment I knew that whatever came her way, she would be allright…and I could finally turn down the worry meter. Because instead of something unreachable, unnavigable, an almost miss…a regret, she’ll have her talent to take with her, her words would serve her well and her Mom’s love and support as the green light at the end of the dock…always there, always present, but this time reachable, and with a much happier ending.