February 21, 2010

That She Be Her Own Orchard

I feel like someone should slap me upside the head. Or maybe, rather, what I'm reeling from is just that -- a kind of slap upside the head, delivered via a form letter, the reminder -- for I always need this reminder -- that my girl is a wonder, and no thanks to me. That, most important (and still most baffling) of all, she is not me. Not in any way, shape or form -- this child who annoys me with her wild energy, dulls me numb with her endless chatter and floors me every day with her wonder and energy for life and living. 

This weekend, she is worried over the incubated eggs in her 2nd grade classroom; they are due to start hatching any minute now, but it didn't happen soon enough, during school hours, for her to witness it this past Friday afternoon. She came out of class angry, frustrated to tears at Mother  Nature's poor timing, that she wouldn't be there to see the chicks hatch. She was so excited, she says, that she had dreamed about it on Thursday night.  (Her teacher promises to send an e-mail update as soon as the blessed events occur.)

Meanwhile, her mother, proud and puffed up for years now at this child's rampant curiosity, her early reading, even her wishlists: can you believe she only wanted a globe and a world map for her 7th birthday?, meanwhile this mama's ego is taking it on the chin, at the news that the world, or at the least the school district, can judge her as precocious enough, but hmm, no great shakes.  It's a tough balance, the investment of self, the projection of self,  onto these small and still-new people that are my children.  I think that in general I do a fair job of keeping a balance, reminding myself often to cut us all a darn break.  Still,  shame on me, for falling prey to my own ambitions and assumptions, while meanwhile this happy, healthy and magical person bounces (and shrieks) (and collides) (and sings off-key) (loudly) through our rooms and hearts just as specifically herself, only herself, as ever.

When she was very young, a baby, I found this poem by Gail Mazur and meant to have it framed and hung in her room.  I never did, but remembered it again, tonight. 

Young Apple Tree, December

What you want for it you'd want
for a child: that she take hold;
that her roots find home in stony
winter soil; that she take seasons
in stride, seasons that shape and
reshape her; that like a dancer's,

her limbs grow pliant, graceful
and surprising; that she know,
in her branchings, to seek balance;

that she know when to flower, when
to wait for the returns; that she turn
to a giving sun; that she know
fruit as it ripens; that what's lost
to her will be replaced; that early
summer afternoons, a full blossoming

tree, she cast lacy shadows; that change
not frighten her, rather that change
meet her embrace; that remembering

her small history, she find her place
in an orchard; that she be her own
orchard; that she outlast you;

that she prepare for the hungry world
(the fallen world, the loony world)
something shapely, useful, new, delicious.


  1. What great photos. A kid couldn't ask for better ones. I remember the one where she's gazing out the window (Big Sur?), but the first is new, yes? What is that little girl thinking about?

  2. Thanks Becky! That first picture is from last summer, taken at a local park near dusk.

  3. Beautiful. Thank you for writing this. In many ways, you have expressed that which is in my heart for my own young daughter.

    Just discovered your blog, and loving it!

  4. Thank you, Amy! Just saw your comment. Daughters are so hard, I think. Hard to try to do it right, anyway. I enjoyed seeing your own blog -- you are a far-flung visitor here, from Alaska! Thank you for visiting me.


Thanks for commenting! :)

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