Friday, October 5, 2012

How being a poet has prepared me to parent

My daughter is 9 months old. Everything is new and worthy of exploration for her, and I’m having a blast showing it to her. As I watch her learn the world, I keep thinking of how her actions, and my interactions with her, connect to my being a poet. For example. 

  1. Both invite me to take note of the beautiful world around me. Now I have every good reason to stand for five minutes looking at that beautiful leaf, or the pattern the sun makes on the floor.
  2. Both require me to think in terms of senses. I can look at an article of food or a household item and think “this has a cool texture!” “look at these bright colors!” I used to do an exercise with my students where they had to describe an item as though they had no idea what it was. Being that we were in a classroom, we got a lot of strange chair and backpack descriptions. Now I can do that daily as I watch her explore every new thing with hands and mouth. It reminds me that everything we look at also has a taste , texture, sound and smell. Today in the grocery store she would routinely drop her favorite giraffe toy in favor of whatever new item I threw in the cart. And who could blame her? Peppermint tea, in its box covered in plastic, with its bright designs—now that’s cool!
  3. It’s all about discovery. Imagine the first time you ever taste squash or chicken or oatmeal. I get so excited thinking what I’m going to introduce her to next.
  4. Language is music. Together we make sounds just for the joy of hearing them. What a thrill.
  5. It’s easier, lately, to work on poems in short spurts than it is to step into my novel—and short spurts are pretty much what I have right now. Happily, it’s possible to jot down lines here and there while playing with blocks.

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