I'm in my usual 5:45 p.m. multi-task mode of preparing dinner three separate ways to satisfy myself and each Thing, proofing their homework and trying to engage these dear little parasites -- who are far more eager to log on to "Wizard 101" than in building meaningful childhood memories with their rapidly aging, belly expanding, hair thinning parental unit known as Dad, or He Who Has Occasional Conniptions -- in conversation.
Then it happens.
"Dad, do you ever have writer's block?" Thing 1 says.
"Uh, yeah. Do you know what that is?"
"Yeah. It's when you can't think of anything to write," she said. "Tomie dePaola doesn't call it that. He calls it 'artist's block.'"
"What's the difference? And, who's Tomie? New beau?"
"'Artist's block' is when you can't think of anything to draw. He's a famous writer and draw-er. Don't you know him?"
"Not off the top of my head. Does he have a blog?"
"I don't know. Maybe. We read one of his books and some stuff about him in school today. He's really famous."
She eats some leftover pork roast, known in our house as "chicken" because that is the only acceptable term for any kind of meat with "meat," for whatever reason, being the most offensive term of all. She starts talking about a story she wrote in school that her teacher read aloud to the class today.
Despite her loathing of reading and struggle to improve at, Thing 1 does periodically goes on story writing jags. She did a few on her own last summer and worked on one with her best friend on a play date a few weeks back. She sometimes lets me edit them by cleaning up the not-even-phonetic spelling and raised-on-bad-kiddie-sitcom grammar and then inserting page breaks so she can drop in clip art or draw in the critical illustration, which I sometimes think is the real reason she wrote the story in the first place.
"She gave me a 'four,'" Thing 1 says.
"A four out of what? Four? Forty?"
"Out of six. She said I might have actually gotten a bit higher, but she was tired when she was grading all the stories."
I've given up trying to understand how things are graded in her school. Sometimes fours are the best. Sometimes it's As. Sometimes a simple "good" is the best you can get. The grading system in this town was just as goofy when I was growing up here, when we strove for an "E" for Excellence and felt crushed by an "S" for Satisfactory though a satisfactory life would be more than excellent on many a grownup day.
We talk some more about her story. She's seems unusually excited for something neither shopping nor Jonas Brothers related.
"You're not thinking about becoming a writer are you?" I ask.
"Nooooo!" she says. "I'd never make any money or become famous. It takes months to write a book and publish it."
Oh, yeah. Months.
"That's OK," I say, knowing that her 9-year-old heart is torn between art teacher and fashion designer. "I wouldn't recommend it any way. Learn a trade. You'll feel more accomplished at the end of every day."
We return to leftovers.
"You know, I've had real bad writer's block of late. Did you hear me and Mom talking about that last night?"
"Not block so much. I've been writing a lot lately and it isn't anything I'm happy with. You should feel happy with what you write, whether it's about something funny or serious or sad. But sometimes, I just feel like I've created junk, you know? Junk is junk and it makes you feel junky."
I pour her more milk.
"How are you today?" she asks.
"Much better," I say.
I snap the cap back onto the gallon.
My Uncool Past
- ► 2014 (16)
- ► 2013 (30)
- ► 2012 (61)
- ► 2011 (57)
- ► 2010 (100)
- The Joy of Proficiency
- Fame - Is It Any Wonder
- Everywhere at Once; Nowhere at All
- Shedding Extra Light on Your Seasonal Demise
- She's Not Testy Over Standardized Tests
- First Day. Rest of Life. Blah, Blah, Blah.
- My Blogiversary -- Exposed!
- When Blood is Not Enough
- Between a Hug and a Choke
- Around the Block
- ▼ March (10)