December 5th, 2007

head shot

From the Backseat

Yesterday afternoon we're driving home from violin lessons via the grocery store and the girls have got their riff running in the backseat. It's almost like they've agreed on some sublime topic ("OK, let's free associate about colors"), only they haven't. It just unfolds.

Taller daughter: What does yellow have to do with orange and what does orange have to do with pink?
(Apropos of nothing. The sky was gray and the car in front of us was a dirty blue.)

Smaller daughter, barely pausing and certainly not asking for clarification: They're all in a sunset. 
(Notice there's no question mark at the end. Her voice doesn't rise like the voices of my college students always do, wondering if they are anywhere in the neighborhood of right. Nope. She's certain it's a good answer. And her sister confirms it.)

Taller daughter: Good answer! 
(Delighted with the sunset idea, which is, afterall, as good as any. Because it's clear that there wasn't one singular satisfying thing she needed to hear -- the whole topic was open for interpretation.)

And I'm up front just trying to catch up. 
If I'd been in on this, I'm sure I would've asked for clarification, dullard that I am -- especially at 5pm in traffic.

I'm thinking I oughta remember this when I'm parenting and teaching and writing for kids. 
There's not always one good answer or even one good question.
There's not always context or linear thought. 
There's not always a simple, straight-forward way of looking at things.
These are the days before yellow and orange and pink have become all black and white. 

(I may be a dullard, but I'm feeling grateful for color... )