Here is one of the worksheets I found at the bottom of her backpack today:
What is your favorite food? Mac-and-cheese.
What does it look like?It is cheesey.
How does it taste? It tastes salty, noodley, and cheesey. It is hard to explain. When I eat mac-and-cheese it tastes soft.
That description: I love it. I love the combination of senses and I love that it is wholly original. I could not have described mac-n-cheese better myself.
Here’s another description she wrote about her Mimi, her blankie:
Reading that, I tried to tell her what a metaphor is and what a neat thing they are, but she didn’t care. She was off to the next project, practicing dance steps in the mirror. A few days later, she took this self-portrait with my phone.
My daughter, the artist.
She has been telling herself stories for years now, murmuring, “Don’t talk to me, I’m telling myself a story,” while staring contentedly out the car-window for half-hours on end. She only sometimes tells these stories out loud. She’s not sure about having me write them down: apparently, like butterflies, they lose some of their magic when they get pinned to paper. Some of them are set in her preschool, some in kindergarten, some right now. Here’s an example, from the week after I was writing a lecture on the Dust Bowl that she must have gotten some inkling of:
“There was a giant dirt-storm tornado that came through, and L and me got so injured that we had to move into the nurse’s office permanently. [Here let me interject that her school nurse is the most cheerful, loving woman ever. Half the school hopes to move into this nurse’s office.] Our friends all came to see us and brought cards. We had a special chair to get into our bunkbeds in the nurse’s office. And, to get better, we needed a special swing like the one I played at on the pumpkin patch, only different and even more exciting, out on the school playground…”
It’s not yet a masterpiece, you see, but the germs of storytelling are there.
She won’t tell me the current story she likes to tell herself because, she has told me, it contains the word “butt.”