My oldest daughter, Saskia, is in Junior Kindergarten at Action Day Primary Plus, which means that she gets homework every week, to be done with her parents. This week’s homework was to fill out a series of questions about her mom, in anticipation of Mother’s Day – that day that scares men and women of all ages, whether they have a mom, are a mom, wish they were a mom, are married to a mom, wish they were married to a mom, or miss their mom.
Our homework process runs smoothly. I read the question, we try to answer it together, then I help her spell the answer while she writes it down.
First question: “What is your mom’s favorite color?”
Without even looking at me she responds “yellow and green”. Excellent! She’s been paying attention to the fact that I am transitioning favorite color from green to yellow. I’m impressed.
The next few questions are easy. Mom’s favorite food, drink, lucky number. She “interviews” me, I answer, I spell it, she writes it.
The last question is “What is your mom’s favorite place?” Here I was a little stumped. I searched for a few second, coming up with places like Tahoe, the beach, Basel, Spain. But none of them felt quite right.
Saskia then says: “Why don’t I give you a few suggestions?”
“Sure”, I say, thinking that’s just adorable.
“How about the theater? You like the theater, right mom?”
!!! Wow! Of course, she’s right. The theater is by far my favorite place. When I walk into a theater the outside world fades a little bit and my soul feels at home. The fact that my 5-year-old daughter came up with this answer is absolutely amazing to me. This kid knows me better than I know myself.
The incident made me think of Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink”, in which he looks at rapid congnition – that seemingly instinctual thing our brain does sometimes, when it comes up with the right answer without having to analyze a situation too much. When I was faced with the decision to pick a favorite place, I immediately started over-analyzing the answer. Favorite how? Favorite place to visit? To live in? To bathe in? But Saskia knew within a few seconds that whenever mom talks about the theater, or goes to the theater, she looks happy and content. For her, there is no need to think about it anymore.
In addition to making me feel proud, her answer also made me feel accepted. I often feel guilty when I leave the house to go to a rehearsal. Not because I am leaving my daughters and husband alone – they do just fine without me – but because I don’t feel remorseful for leaving. That was not a typo. I did just write that I feel guilty for not feeling guilty. Seeing the serenity on Saskia’s face when she suggested that the theater might be my favorite place, made me realize there is nothing to feel guilty about. She accepts my absences because she knows I go to my happy place. I also know that the day she comes to rehearsals with me is not very far in the future…
Here is the last item of homework, a portrait that she drew of me, with long hair (although mine is very short), because long hair is more beautiful… which is another whole topic that I will attack on a different day…