Monday, July 21, 2014

The Right Now

She sat with me last night on my rocking chair. Lanky arms and legs tangled in my own. Eight years old is too big for mama's lap, but sometimes the moon lays rich on the hint of strawberry in her hair and I can't say no.

We sighed together, exhaling the day. She fidgeted with her shorts. That one ripped seam on the side that gets more hairy-frayed every time she wears them. I listened to the mourning doves and the whippoorwills and the sound of the walnut tree branches brushing the side of the house. Dancing free in the wind.

All was still for a moment, except the gliding motion of the chair. Back and forth. Back and forth.

Then I asked her how her day had been. What had she enjoyed today? What made her sad? She recounted harsh words spoken by a big brother and lively splashings in the pool. She chattered about a movie she had watched and ruminated on the wanderings of imaginary play. There was a crafting and a release in her words. And I felt it as surely as the southerly breeze sneaking in the window: her perspective on her life was being formed. That by distilling her experiences into words - and by giving voice to those perceptions - she was learning to value her unique angle on her day. She was learning to think for herself. To respect her own experience inside her life.

Although this isn't always the case, by some miracle, I didn't edit my daughter's words. I just listened. Nodding along and adding the appropriate wow! or really? at the right times. She talked and giggled and pouted her way through her tales, talking nonstop for almost a full five minutes.

And then she stopped to take a breath.

It must have been the rhythm of the rocking chair, or the fact that the hour was already late, but silence prevailed for a long moment. Each of us lost in thought.

She turned to me then, evidence of the fire within gleaming off her tresses the moonlight, and said:

But do you want to know my favorite part of today, Mama ... ? Her bold blueberry eyes, having danced in the fanciful and wept with the devastating, now held mine, searching. 

She snuggled her head into my chest and wrapped me in one of those soul-deep hugs for which she's famous. Then she mumbled words muted only by the thin cotton of my t-shirt:

My favorite part of today is right now.

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