My daughter, Sierra is 12. She is studying poetry at school.
I’ve been having a very bad week. Sierra is a quiet, pensive soul. She knows me. She understands me.
Last night, Sierra worked quietly at our kitchen table while her younger brother and I chatted about his school science project. While we surveyed Pinterest with the help of my smarter-than-me phone, Sierra was writing.
Did you know you could make an a layered cake of the earth’s surface, or a model of the moon’s phases with Oreo cookies? Life is good when you can eat your Science project. Aidan shares my passion for over the top, crazy projects, so we filled up “Aidan’s Science Museum” board with one edible science project idea after another. We laughed at the absurdities. We watched crazy Youtube videos and plotted how to manage getting (and serving) similar projects to school. Sierra was thinking, writing and coloring on her paper. A quiet presence typical of a middle child used to waiting for opportunity to join dialogue of large family conversations.
And then, she spoke. “Do you want to hear a poem I wrote”.
Her question interrupted our viewing and commenting of a Youtube video produced by a homeschool family. They were recreating the layers of the earth with M & M’s, Rice Krispie treats and chocolate Magic Shell ice cream topping. Perhaps the edible earth layer instruction could wait. We paused the video.
“Sure”, I said. “Read us your poem”.
My gentle-spirited, daily blossoming, nearly teenaged daughter lit up the room with words.
I stare at the splash of colors in a box
I run my fingers slowly over the tips of the pencils
I have to do it!
I pick one up
And I start coloring outside the lines
And there it was. The power of words. While Aidan and I were looking for inspiration, Sierra was creating it. While Aidan and I were entertained and distracted by video and hyperlinks, it was Sierra’s words that brought clarity to the moment.
“Sierra”, I said. “That is really beautiful”.
I studied her young face amazed at the depth behind her eyes. Her wide smile reflected a countenance of victory and accomplishment.
“Thanks” she said.
It was that moment when the hardness of my week began to melt away. For regardless of what the world was trying to teach me about broken relationships, unemployment, death, and violence, love and inspiration were still present. At that moment, that fraction of time, I felt the reassurance that it is okay to be different than the world expects. Despite the negativity, despite the opposition, there is a place for the rogue traveler, the one who craves a better world than the one being presented.
My young son, his goofy sense of humor, and passion for the crazy, and my artistic, deep-thinking daughter with her poetic inspirations were sitting at my kitchen table with me in the midst of a terrible week. They were a clear reminder of a better tomorrow. Life can be hard. Life can be cruel. But, during these moments of discouragement and despair, it only takes a moment to re-focus and learn it’s okay to color outside the lines.