Oranges (or raising a 10 year old)
~This is a new post~
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.
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.
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