Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Maria's first story

I was doing some writing on the computer when my daughter approached. She doesn't notice the pattern, but she often bothers me about this time of the day. I think that she just wants to chat or spend some time with me, but it usually translates into her asking me to turn up the air conditioner. It's the same thing every time... she says that it's too hot, so I suggest that she take off her sweatshirt; that's not an option. She has this cute little pink sweatshirt with a hood, that she proudly wears day in and day out... it's like it's her uniform or something. She wants to sleep in that thing, but my wife won't let her.... she thinks that she'll choke on the drawstrings.

"What are you doing, Daddy?"
"Oh, just writing a story, Honey. What's up?"
"Nothing. Can I do one?"

This took me by surprise. The greatest joy in being a father is watching your children develop into unique individuals with unique skills and personalities. This was the first time that Maria had ever shown any interest in doing anything creative... I was thrilled to see what she'd come up with. She's in third grade... I think that's about the time that I started taking an interest in writing as well.

I opened a fresh window on the computer for her, and gave up my throne. She promptly climbed up onto the computer chair and took a deep breath... she was getting into her typing mode. She uses the computer regularly to email her friends... although everything that's said is usually repeated twenty minutes later in a phone conversation. She actually types pretty well, but still uses her index fingers for everything. She's too small for the computer desk that we have set up, but it doesn't stop her.

After a few seconds of staring at the blank screen, she turned around to look at me.
"What do I write about?"
"Anything you want, Sweetie... it's your story."
For a moment, she stared off into space to the right of me. Her eyes squinted and her face scrunched up slightly, as she said, "Hmm." I truly wish I had this expression on film... it was the cutest thing. I would post a photo of it if she was any good at repeating poses; she's not though... she can't help but smile when a camera is aimed at her.

She pushed the sleeves of her pink sweatshirt up, just past her elbows, and pretended to crack her knuckles (for the record, I have no idea where she learned this). She didn't look back at me for further direction; she simply turned her attention back to the screen and began typing. She wasn't typing as fast as she normally does... I don't think that she was sure what to say. When she's writing to her friends, the messages are short and abrupt, but they're preplanned... this time, she was typing with hesitation.

After a couple minutes, she excitedly turned around to smile at me.
"Listen to what I have so far!"
As a pure reflex, I eagerly smiled back at her... I couldn't wait to hear it.
She started reading from the screen, "Today my little sister said her first word. She said strawberry. It didnt sound right but she is very little."
I thought it was cute, but I wondered why she wrote what she did. "Honey, that wasn't her first word. Why did you write that?"

There was no response - just dead silence. I couldn't see her face from where I was standing, but she seemed to be staring at the keyboard. "Sweetie, are you crying?"

Out of nowhere, she erupted. In-between sobs, she screamed, "You ruined it!" She then jumped out of the chair and ran out of the room; I was stunned. What a little bitch.