“Why do you have to be a teenager when you get older?” My daughter is eight, and she’s filled with anxiety about her changing body – or her soon-to-be changing body, the hints of which come and go now like fairy dust.
Who talks about the good parts of growing up?
“It’s not all hard, honey. It isn’t just mood swings and changes in your body. It’s also a time when you start to really discover what you’re passionate about.”
“You’re passionate about theater.” You never know when a child is listening.
“Right. I still am. You also become more independent as you get older. You have a chance to make all kinds of good choices for yourself.”
“I don’t want to be a teenager.”
“I hear you, but you’re gonna like it, Sweetheart. I know you are. There are a lot more good parts than bad.”
* * * * *
I am sitting at a round oak table made one hundred years ago, a steaming mug of coffee in front of me with just a touch of milk. On my left, my daughter – who has sped through her morning routine for this privilege – is absorbed in a game on her DSi. She’s already finished her smoothie and toast. On my right, my Honey is typing – either to format the minutes from last night’s non-profit board meeting, or to communicate with clients who are coming closer to buying a house – I’m not sure which. No one is speaking, but it’s a warm quiet – a comfortable quiet.
I decide to write.
I don’t often write in the midst of my family like this: Over breakfast, with the clicking of keys on one side and video game refrains on the other. Usually, my writing time is more private.
Sometimes over breakfast, when my daughter’s nose is in a book, she throws her head back in laughter.
Sometimes, my Honey wraps her hands around a mug like mine and tells me about the family she met with the day before, about their two boys, about the giant lumbering cat in the house they saw, and the young woman – the mom – who was allergic.
Often, I don’t take time to sit at the breakfast table. Often, I pour my coffee, put on my coat and shoes, and join my family heading out the door for school. For work. Often.
I like this better.
“What do you like about morning?” I ask my Honey. She is definitely a morning person.
“Hmmmm… You’ve got your whole day ahead of you,” she says. “… I also like being alone in the kitchen, in the quiet. I’m the most awake in the morning – it’s my favorite time of day.”
“What’s your favorite time of day?” I ask my colleagues when I get into work.
“I like mornings when I don’t have to do anything … mmm… I like… the alone-time in the shower.”
“Morning? No. My favorite time of day is 8 p.m.”
“I love the morning! That’s why I get up so early – morning gives me a chance to start over. I really like when the sun is out – I feel like the sun is shining on me.”
When I ask my daughter, she answers, “You’re gonna write something, aren’t you?”
“I am. Why?”
“You always write something when you ask a random question.” Am I so transparent?
“What do you like about morning?” I ask again.
“I don’t know. I wonder,” she says with the tiniest hint of a smile. “I get to die.”
“In my video game, I get to die.”
* * * * *
I unlock my front door after an incredibly long day. I smell quinoa… and bread.
“I know what I love,” my daughter announces. “Poems! Whenever I start writing a poem, it just all comes together in a piece. Like a puzzle.”
This is why I write in front of her. This. Right here.
She reads me her poems and they are stunning. They are beautiful.
I’ve tried for years to give mornings a chance. I have. But I am not a morning person.
This is my favorite time of day. A time of love and poetry. This.