Child of mine

March 24, 2007

I don’t always understand my eldest daughter. She seems haphazard and disorganised. Yet, she is self contained and expresses a wry sense of humor when you least expect it. She generally talks non-stop, and I occasionally find myself tuning out, especially if she is in one of her nutty moods, or recounting a bizarre dream (these recounts usually go on for ages). She is and always has been very creative. She is now quite well known at school for her drawings and sculpture.

Over summer, when my sister was visiting us at our beach house, we were sitting casually around the kitchen table. Some of the kids were drawing, some were listening in to our conversation and we were all drinking Chai. My sister was talking, when K added a comment of her own. Even though I had heard her, I hadn’t been tuned into what she had said. There was a lot of action around the table and I had been more tuned in to my sister. But it was my sister who stopped and did a double take. She paused in what she was saying to direct her attention to K. That was really funny She said.

It was only when my sister drew attention to what K had said that I took it in. We all laughed then. What she had said was astute and hilarious. I wondered how many of these moments I had let pass over my head. I felt internally grateful to my sister for directing my attention to my daughter at that moment.

I worry about K. She does her own thing mostly and she is cynical about joining clubs and societies at her school. I don’t understand her attitude because I generally enjoy the social thing. I worry that she should be extending herself more and broadening her freindship circles. If she decides she doesn’t see the point of a subject at school, she refuses to study for tests and gets average to above average marks anyway. But this I don’t understand either.
Why wouldn’t you want to do your best? I have been known to ask her.
Can’t be bothered. Is the generally unsatisfying reply I get to that style of question.

Last Wednesday K announced to me: Mum, I got 18/20 for my text response in English. Would you like me to read it to you?
Yes, I’d love to hear it. Go get it!

K finds her school bag and fossicks around for awhile, Oh, I forgot to bring it home.
Maybe tomorrow then? I say.

Two days later (yesterday) she finally remembered to bring it home. I had been out at a meeting that afternoon and arrived home at around ten that night. She had been waiting up for me in her room. When she heard me come in she came down to the study in her nightie – a loose Tshirt style of thing that I had sewn for her. She looked so grown up, but so cute to me because she was wearing something I had made for her. She had her story in her hand and asked if I wanted her to read it now, or whether it was too late for me. 
It could wait until tomorrow if you’re too tired
she said.
No, I want to hear it now. I’ve been looking forward to it.

So we closed the study doors and each took a chair at adjascent desks. I spun around to look at her and she tucked her legs up onto the chair and began to read. It took my breath away. Her story was sensitive and beautifully written. She had cleverly incorporated the line that the test question had demanded and had crafted an engaging piece of fiction. I realised that she had a gift for writing. I felt awed and proud in overwhelming proportions. Here she was, a child of mine, but an individual I could not always understand, an individual I don’t always know how to be for, but at the same time an inspiring individual, with gifts beyond anything her father or I can imagine.

She handed me the paper and I read the teachers comments, which echoed my reactions of awe and delight. As I read the last line of the teacher’s remarks, K commented over my shoulder:
Yeah, too many spelling mistakes. If I could spell, the teacher said I would have got full marks.

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