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you are not there

We are taking the little one for a ride on her new sled. It is bright orange, with a fuzzy black and white seat cover to keep her extra warm. Her tiny hands in tiny gloves hold the sides as tight as she can. I pull her down a path, shouting "woohooo" and then she replies "woohoo". N's turn is next, pulling her more schoolgirl than mother for a few minutes. There are other parents with children on sleds passing us. Their eyes straight forward, faces completely blank they slip by in silence. I flash a smile to them, and they do not even look at me. I am not there, just another tree leaning towards the stream that runs below.

There are ducks still, flapping around the brackish water and we throw pieces of stale bread to them. I start to think, not about the complete absence of smiles in this culture. I stopped asking about that long ago, told over and again that smiles are reserved for home, behind closed doors. But I wonder, for the children -  these wiggling bu…

3 chords and the truth




My daughter sings with me sometimes, I think for the same reasons I do. Happiness multiplies when it is shared, and sadness fades when you find yourself strumming and warbling away, especially with company. Inspired by the most fundamental elements of her life, E improvises lyrics about playgrounds and the tulips, about the wish for a little sister. She takes pictures with my cameras too - self portraits, blurry snapshots of her toys, leftover wrapping paper from her birthday party, a scraped knee, her favorite pants. 

I used to sit next to my father in his studio, a stump of charcoal in my hand, learning to draw. Learning to draw the light, not the objects I thought were there. Draw what you see, he told me. It was so quiet there. Maybe the dog would be sniffing around or sleeping heavily. Just the scratch of the paper, the tinkling sound of his paintbrush in water, or turpentine. The light would just hang there, tiny bits of dust drifting around in the afternoon light. I was never tired or bored or hungry there, in the attic with him.

she goes to sleep
then she wakes up
she colors her hair
and goes to school
she wears red shoes
and every time she wants
she goes to the playground

I find it fascinating she sings about this other girl, although the details are all from her own life. There is a big difference between, "I go to sleep," and "She goes to sleep." E is singing about the routine of life, and all that is familiar to her.

But I know she has never seen a lemon tree. That's the part that blows my mind. I see her processing sadness and disappointment, turning it into something to share with the world. I see her joy, the small freedoms she feels and how these are there too. And I think she knows all of this.


Comments

Annie said…
Ah.... and why would she not be extraordinary with a father like you, and apparently some artistic wealth in the genetics?

That moment when you were the child drawing...could see it...see the dark and light contrast, hear the silence...how exquisite the contrast with the bright and tuneful present....yet parallel.
I was reading and my little one, (just turned 4) heard your gal's voice, stuck her thumb in her mouth, gathered her blankie, and snuggled up beside me to listen!
We both enjoyed a "Expat's Baby" singing!
Precious. And she can really sing!
Rabbit blogger said…
annie, jojo - it was wonderful to wake up on this side of the world and find your comments. E's little cousin in the US had a similar reaction, and was singing along with us yesterday. sometimes the world feels so very small...
april said…
completely beautiful

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