Magic

My daughter did a magic trick. She sawed the beautiful lady in half right before my eyes – except she did it with words, with her remarkable story about September 11 and New York, with people flying within reach of the Twin Towers and kissing beneath street lamps and flowers falling from the sky. I can’t possibly do it justice. You’ll have to come over and ask her to read it to you herself

The most fabulous thing: She did it without me.

About two weeks into kindergarten, I realized that there were entire experiences, stretches of time in my child’s life, that I would have no knowledge of. Friends I might never meet; momentous events, petty arguments, life-changing moments that would have nothing at all to do with me.

This realization was thrilling … and also unsettling. Of course, I got used to it. Years later I sent two more children to kindergarten and I didn’t bat an eye.

Until that moment in the Writing House at Interlochen Arts Camp.

I had my hands full trying to keep Josh occupied while the other 27 students in the Intermediate Creative Writing Program read their stories and poems. We played dots and hangman in the conference room next to the reading space, and every few minutes I’d pop my head out of the doorway to see how much longer till Miriam’s turn.

When she got close, we moved into the main room. Josh and I sat on the floor off to the side while the girl before Miriam took her turn. Josh put his head on my lap, wriggled, stretched his arms and legs. When his sister approached the podium, he finally sat still.

She arranged the papers in front of her, lifted her head high, and began.

As she read in that clear, commanding voice, I gasped. I was stunned by the imagery, by her composure, by the dramatic delivery.

Two weeks after returning from camp, she has decided to write a novel as part of NaNoWriMo’s Young Writer’s Program. NaNo-what? It’s in November: National Novel Writing Month, where people young and old challenge themselves to write an entire novel in 30 days.

What the heck; I told her I’d sign up too. She smiled. We could tackle this crazy challenge together. And then I considered the logistics. A novel? In a month? While running a business and walking the dog and making sure the people in this house eat and have clean laundry? I don’t even write novels. What was I thinking?

I was thinking that my daughter is an inspiration. That she is a glorious mystery to me, an accomplished writer all on her own. I was thinking that this child of mine, the one who will celebrate her bat mitzvah in six short months, has big dreams. Why not go there with her?

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4 thoughts on “Magic

  1. It’s a wonderful and yes magical event to be stunned by a child’s creativity. I’ll never forget a phrase from something my daughter wrote in first grade or so, “It was the kind of town where you could knock on any door and be invited in for dinner…” I would LOVE to read/ hear your daughter’s story.
    Revel in their creative energy!

  2. I am consistently amazed by Miriam’s creativity and maturity. I got teary when I read her story and when I read this post. Being a gramma is a strange and wonderful experience!

  3. She is an amazing girl. She was so little on 9/11. I wouldn’t have known the surreality of that day had registered, but its shadow still looms large in all our lives. Anyhow, bring the story next month!

  4. Hi,

    It’s Katey here, Miriam’s teacher at Interlochen this summer. Thanks for your kind words of support and for writing so nicely about the experience here in this blog post. Your daughter was a joy to teach. She applied herself and had fun while doing it. She asked questions, put in extra effort, and all without closing off that great imagination. The story she wrote about 9/11 came from a prompt the day we were talking about magical realism. It was one of the most memorable, remarkable pieces of all the student work I heard this summer. Thanks for sharing her with Interlochen!

    Best,
    Katey Schultz

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