The Art of Life
By Patricia Darak
“What are you typing, Mommy?” My daughter peeked over my shoulder as I was sitting at my computer. I lifted my hands from the keyboard and slowly turned around. “I’m just writing a story, Sweetie. Why don’t you sit on my lap and help me?” She looked into my eyes, then shook her head. “No thanks, Mommy. I don’t have a story to write.”
Smiling, I reached over and hugged her. I assured her that there were stories everywhere: in the air, in our imaginations, on the walls. Everywhere. I asked her if there was something interesting that had happened to, or around, her today. She thought for a moment while scrunching up her face in concentration. “What about when you took our pictures, Mommy? Was that interesting?” I agreed that it was, and she jumped up and down a few times. “I think I have a story, Mommy! I’m gonna go write it right now!” She skipped out of the room and started singing at the top of her lungs an improvised song about everything that had happened to her so far today.
About twenty minutes later, still singing her ode, she handed me two sheets of notebook paper filled with blue-crayoned words.
when i was little
when i went to the grocery store i was little and freezing and wearing a dress my mom was funny and i am last born and i am good and shy and smart and funny and scary and very nice and i was happy and loved to sew a dress and my mom is helpful for the laundry and mom is happy and when my mom made dinner she has carrots and she cried and she cried hard and she was sad when i was little i was scared and shy and very very happy and shiny and loved and my stuffed animals are new and i love them and they love me the end
I was intrigued by her narrative, and I asked her about the line describing her as freezing. She told me that she was referring to when we went to the freezer section of the grocery store. She said that she felt like a popsicle for a little while. I also asked her about her description of my crying. She reminded me that sometimes I cried easily when I told her how much I loved her and how much she meant to me and how grateful I was that she was born. I nodded my head in agreement and teared up on cue. She kissed me on the forehead and said that she was going outside to play. I looked down at the papers in my hand for a little while.
I set the story down on my desk and sat back in my chair. After a few moments, I turned my computer off and went outside. I followed my daughter over to the sandbox and asked if I could play. She skeptically gazed up at me, then asked me if I would stay for a long time. I agreed. She proceeded to fill me in on the back story for her dolls, and orchestrated my part in the action.
We played until sunset, when her sister and brother came outside, too. We expanded our play storylines to include their characters, and we all became caught up. But, pretty soon the kids wanted to look at the pictures that we took of them and their friends. They all agreed that they were awesome. I was honored by their praise.
Glancing at the crock-pot on the kitchen counter, I announced that it was dinnertime, and that they needed to please go and wash their hands. A stampede for the bathroom broke out, followed by laughter and, curiously, a whistling contest.
I set the food on the dinner table just in time for their return migration, and we sat down to eat. Looking around the table at my healthy and happy children, I was overwhelmed by gratitude. I couldn’t help it; my eyes began to fill with tears of joy.
My youngest daughter, looking at me for the first time since she sat down, shook her head. “Oh, no. There she goes again.” And, as if rehearsed, all three kids grinned and shouted, “We love you, too, Mommy!”