Saturday, January 9, 2010

On My Bohemian Baby...

I hate my daughter.

No I don’t. I love her to bits, and I'm dreadfully, terribly, obnoxiously proud of her. But I hate her nonetheless. Why? Well, folks, the reasons are numerous and are firmly rooted in my own, very personal, feelings of regret, but for the sake of argument, let’s just focus on the top four.

First of all, my Bohemian baby is taller and more slender than I ever was in either my first flush of youth, or as a dancer and competitive gymnast. Second, she has a ready openness and an entirely personable, c'est la vie attitude that, try as I might, I shall never attain. I happen to be as totally guarded and anxiety-ridden as the rest of my matriarchy. Third, she is as intelligent as she is beautiful. You can accuse me of motherly conceit here, but she is a former model who consistently earned academic honors throughout her high school and college careers. And fourth and most importantly, she is flat out, talented! My daughter is
(as my waistline will attest) a sinfully delicious pastry chef, a provocative, budding artist, a not-half-bad karaoke singer, and a thoroughly distinctive writer.

"What?" you exclaim in feigned surprise knowing full well that the apple rarely falls far from the tree, "She's a writer just like her mother?"

No. She's better.

While I sit stewing over characterizations, plot lines, and the sticky 'K' on my keyboard, she opens her notebook, hits 'repeat' on her iPod, clicks her Bic, and starts scribbling. Her words flow like the Niagara, plummeting onto the page in a cool, showering rainbow mist of literary brilliance ... and I sincerely hate her for that.

As a parent, I have always encouraged my children’s interests. Always. Like my maternal forebears, I firmly espoused the “you-can-do-anything-you-set-your-mind-to” adage during her formative years. I still believe in that, as should we all. Am I jealous much? Not really. Honestly, I have nothing to be jealous of. I'm just patently amazed and, perhaps, a tad more than mildly envious of her talent. Simply put, my daughter, Danielle, astounds me!

My daughter first shared her writing with me one day when she “was bored,” as she puts it. She sat at my computer and pounded out her brainwaves. She typed furiously for less than 10 minutes, printed the page off, and said, “Mommy,” (it’s always ‘Mommy’ when they want something), “could you proofread this for me, please?” Other than a missing comma or two, I was rewarded with 525 words of unadulterated brilliance, and I’m not exaggerating or “mommy-boasting.”
I was just so got! At age 22, she possesses an insight that I still strive for at age 50.

Now, I have always known my daughter is an astonishing creature (that is a "proud mommy” statement), but, until recently, I never realized how readily her talents flow. This last Friday, she and her best friend from high school - an equally talented and stunning young woman, and one of my surrogate progeny - surprised me at my office. The three of us caught up over a light lunch-cum-gabfest, and my daughter explained her literary process. She really does put a song on 'repeat' and listens until it fades into nothingness. Then she opens her notebook, writes down her predetermined first sentence, her prompt, and allows whatever else is in her brain to spew forth. She calls this "Word Vomit." (If you ever happen across that title in your favorite book store, BUY IT! And remember you heard it here first, folks.). Right now, Danielle’s pieces are short, more of the flash fiction genre, but they are concise, full-bodied, and easily relatable, leaving a tangy warmth on your soul. Sort of the same way a really good chardonnay finishes in your mouth.

I suppose what enflames my little green monster is how wholly original and fluid my daughter’s voice is. Perhaps it has something to do with how liberally her mind works. There is an eclecticness in today’s youth that is, often, sorely lacking within my pseudo-diversified generation. My writing is, sometimes, forced and a little rigid, just like my synapses, although my workshop colleagues might argue that point with you. I even have professorial attestation to my “unique, disarming, and brutally honest” writing. But Danielle is a force majeure.

One of the foremost lessons I absorbed growing up is that the really good parents always harbor “better-than-me” aspirations for their children. By this I mean that, as a mother, I hope and pray that my children will be fabulously happy and financially more solvent in their lifetimes than I have been in mine. However, we parents never seriously consider
whether or not our children will a) follow in our footsteps, b) exceed even our own expectations for us or for themselves, or c) ignite inter-generational, hypothalamic envy, angst or competition. Personally, I find it rather disarming that, with no actual intention, my daughter far surpasses the artistic goals that I have set for myself. And she does so with zero premeditation. It just happens.

Trust me when I say that I am fully aware that my own writing is nothing if not genuinely impactful. I know that I am possessed of my own unique and wholly original voice, every writer is. But it’s the genetic predisposition that truly flabbergasts me. My mother is a Christian writer with a book deal pending. I am an aspiring novelist with three short stories in process while working on submissions for upcoming masters classes. My son is a poet, lyricist and amateur rapper. But my daughter? My daughter is a canon-worthy, naturally born literary artist.

Did I mention that I hate that girl?