WriteOnFightOn Life Lessons,Parenting Oranges (or raising a 10 year old)

Oranges (or raising a 10 year old)



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An older woman with black-rimmed eyeglass and a red fedora is peeling an orange.

Her unpainted and clipped finger nails strip away the dimpled skin.

She didn’t know, or pretended not to care, that I was watching her peel and place both the skin and pith in a paper towel on her lap.

When the orange was clean, she ate, and read from a magazine that was spayed on the table in front of her and I thought about my daughter.

My daughter is 10 and layered now.

Most nights she keeps to herself. She reads or writes or draws or watches Netflix.

The other day I coaxed her into playing a game I play in creative writing class with my students.

We sat at the kitchen table facing each other and imagined we were on a beach together. Just father and daughter, laughing and trading the sensory imagery of a summer afternoon on the beach.

The caw of sea gulls.

A red bucket sideways and spilling sand.

Pink polka dot bathing suits running along the coast line.

The ocean roaring like a pride of hungry lions.

Sun screen grease between your fingers.

French fries.

My daughter at the bookstore.

It’s partly my fault. I often think– since my daughter is quiet she must be fine.

I often ask her, “How was your day?” She responds, “Fine.” And we move into our own private worlds.

Regrettably, I have never asked her “How are your really doing?” or “How can I really help you?

I know swirling beneath her silent, gap-toothed surface is a sea of questions. She’s 10 going on 11 and transitioning into a teenager and is both fascinated and terrified about what lies ahead. And I don’t know if I’m prepared for it either.

Growing up is a matter of dressing yourself in layers. To protect yourself. To hide your imperfections. To pretend your invulnerable.

I was once 10 years old and afraid and tried to make desperate sense of my rightful place in the world.

I should tell my daughter that finding your place is a life-long practice. And that most of us hide beneath our soft layers for safety and protection. Most of us are afraid of being exposed and bruised.

I should tell her that all you can do is find someone you trust. Be patient. And peel away.

Be well,

Jay

PS (Please Share) – If you know someone who is struggling to find themselves today please share this post share with them.

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