In the car one day, Daughter asks me, “Where is God?”
“Oh,” I say, “God is everywhere. You just can’t see Him.” I hear a busy, frowny silence in the backseat and say, “It’s like air. You know air is all around you, right?”
“It’s invisible,” she declares.
“That’s right,” I say. “Some of the best things in life are things you can’t see.”
“Like what?” she wants to know.
“Like happiness,” I say. “And love.”
“Mommmmmy,” she says, in that ‘rolling her eyes’ tone. “Love isn’t invisible! It’s just that our bodies are covering it.”
For days afterwards, I think about that: that we are perhaps thin sheathes over the love in the universe. Or that our bodies are merely obstructions through which love shines anyway.
“Mommy,” she says, “I think I should learn karate.”
“Really?” I ask. This has been a theme for a few days, since I found out and mentioned that there’s an after-school karate program. “Why do you think so?”
“So that when the bad guys come, I’ll know how to fight them!” she says, with less relish and more determination.
“The bad guys!” I exclaim.
“Yeah,” she says. “Like war.” She adds, “If there’s a war, I want to be on Daddy’s team.”
“I’ll be sure to tell him so,” I say.
School has generated a great deal of homework—for me. Every day I am doing something, whether it’s remembering where her special shirt is for Buddy day or packing vegetable broth so that Daughter’s class can make stone soup (“Did you try it?” “Yes. It was yucky.”). I am barely keeping up with all these requests and requirements, and it is in this spirit that I realize she has an envelope full of writing prompt pictures due the following day. I read the instructions with glazed eyes: “Please include no more than ten photos (family vacations, birthdays, etc). Your child will be using these to inspire writing assignments throughout the year.”
I wander through the house helplessly. All our photos are scattered over five or six hard drives, or on what seems like a hundred million different devices, and I’m not even sure which are hooked up to printers. Besides, family vacations? When have we done that? I rub my face and sit on the couch, bewildered…
…which is when my eyes snag on my pile of Discover magazines, as yet unread. I pounce on them with scissors and cut out seal rescues, robots in space, genetically engineered vegetables, previously-unphotographed giant squid… I find ten pictures and pack them in her bookbag before flopping. And get the mental picture of everyone else’s child bringing out happy photos of their families to write about, while mine puzzles out divers tagging sharks and suns going supernova.
This is my life in a nutshell right now: I am cannibalizing science magazines I don’t have time to read so my daughter can become someone who writes stories about robotic sea life piloting rockets fueled by corn syrup solids.
Someone tell me this will get less exhausting…!