There comes a day, apparently, when my boys, having dismissed me as homework helper (somewhere around the 5th grade) renew my access–(somewhere around the age of 18) with a sudden and surprising request to read a piece of their work–which I ask them to read aloud.
Both times I’ve been struck by how much the day to day of our household obscures the subtlety of their attention and the profundity of their soul’s work as revealed by the light over the water off the jagged coast of Maine (Aidan) or the poetry of a small child and a bicycle on a dusty path near the Mediterranean Sea (Lloyd.)
I never intended to be a writer. I turned to the page in despair at the age of 18; and it would be another decade before I realized that I had become a writer, and I certainly never planned to raise writers. (They wouldn’t even write letters to relatives.) But they have grown up watching me write and edit and revise, almost every day of their lives.
“You care more about writing then you do about me,” said my oldest, at the age of 4.
Later they listened for themselves in my work. “Why aren’t I in it?” they’d ask.
Eventually, they were just as disappointed if they found themselves on the page.
“Mom, are you writing about me and sex?” my oldest asked after he came home from a weekend at a friend’s (whose mother was apparently reading my parenting blog.)
For many years after that, anything I wrote had to be screened. Sometimes the objections were fierce and final, but more often, they were few and accommodating. Both boys seemed to appreciate my dharma, while they carved out their own—sports, music, penguins, origami, mountain biking, economics, engineering, politics, philosophy.
Even so, ours has always been a family of words. Of audiobooks and speed scrabble. Of heated kitchen debates. Deep listening. Skilled communication.
Someday if I’m worthy, I’ll arrive on their page. I hope they will be honest and kind.
But mostly I hope that the page will be a friend.