Bright Lights

“My child is a bright light at such-and-such elementary school,” says a bumper sticker that Sophie & I just passed while we were walking her down for her morning nap. I hope I never have such a bumper sticker. It seems silly to boast about what’s already so obvious — but others have told me that I seem to be only venting & complaining on this blog, so I think it may be time to also mention that it is impossible to look at Sophie without smiling.

Of course, if I share joys, I will probably be accused of bragging. I’m not sure whether it was Ben, Sarah, or Vinton who explained to me that no matter what I post, I will be teased, and probably teased by them. But that may happen even if I don’t post. So here it is, a list of bright lights of the week.

1. Yesterday at the park, Sophie was so joyous that other children actually gathered round to watch. Other parents felt they had to apologize: “My daughter has that same hat, I think that’s why she’s staring.” “My son just likes looking at your daughter, I’m not sure why, he may be getting ready for a career as an anthropologist or a spy.” “I think my son just thinks that your daughter is cute.” She IS cute, and so full of laughter & curiosity that I have started to take it for granted that others will always gather round her, even others who are only a few months older than her.

2. This week, one of the students in my intro class told me that all our reading about Jamestown has motivated him to write a rock-song about Pocahontas. One of the students in my theory class announced, “Wait, wait, I think I get it: postmodern means sarcastic! But in a brain-twisting way.” Another student, in my second theory class, declared in all sincerity, “I can’t wait to go home and tell my mother about hegemony.” Really, he said that, and I think he meant it too.

Hegemony, for those of you who aren’t Marxist scholars, is a theory that sees power as the ability to manufacture consent. It begins, for me, with the question of why isn’t there a policeman on every corner? We generally obey the laws, even without a cop on every corner, because we generally accept the structures of society. Without hegemony, no amount of cops on corners can keep a society safe. It’s actually what Bush means by declaring that we need to “win hearts and minds” in Iraq. There’s more to the theory, of course, but it’s a really interesting one, & I love that my students think so too.

3. My family has an excellent weekend morning routine. Sophie inevitably wakes up at 6am like clockwork, but we have been teaching her the skill of lollygagging in bed. On weekends, at 6:30 or 7, whenever the lollygagging is finished, Ben gets up and takes her to the beach to watch the waves and the seagulls. Then they go for a daddy-daughter breakfast at a surfer cafe called Pipes. Sophie eats scrambled egg with avocado while playing peekaboo with the waitresses & the other customers & the pigeons too, and I get to sleep in bed, undisturbed until after 8am. This is a really excellent thing.

4. Sophie is a valued member of my Buddhist meditation group.


One response to “Bright Lights

  1. tearnshaw

    Hi Elaine,
    I’m a little behind at reading your blog but I’m so glad you started one and so happy you’ve included me! I just had to respond to your comments about Sophie being so joyful that others want to be around her. You are the same way, you know. So I’m happy to hear Sophie has inherited your sparkle!

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