He forgot to read his book for school today. This he realized as he was putting on shoes to leave for school this morning after a leisurely four-day weekend. Instantly he transformed, from boisterous, cheerful almost-middle-school weirdo to panicked, shame-filled, sobbing nine year old. Oh, my child. I know how it feels.
I know how it feels to find myself late to a meeting for which I’m unprepared. To arrive at the presentation without my notes. To realize my phone is not charged– just as the important call begins. To forget the milk. Always. To run over to your school mid-day to drop off the permission form, the field trip money, the instrument, the book, the medicine I forgot to give you. To get in the car and see, again, that I am already late to wherever I’m going, even though I had left plenty of time.
“I’m a failure,” he cried to himself quietly in the backseat. Oh, my child. I know how it feels.
I know how it feels to see how other people remember. How other people stick with it. How other people finish. How they start right away. These things that should be easy. “You’re so smart,” they said, “Why can’t you do this?”
I’m great at Big Things, I have learned to say. Just not at the little things. I’m great at having ideas, ten or twelve of them while the rest of the group still sits silent waiting for inspiration. I’m great at solving the problem. At keeping my cool when shit gets real. At dreaming. I’m great at making a change, big change, like scrapping everything and starting over, like revising the text I worked so hard to compose in the first place, like rearranging the furniture in the middle of the night, like thinking up another way. I read fast, and I read everything. I’m great at imagining, just like you, and at words, and music, and seeing the whole big complicated picture in a flash. Just like you are.
But not at the Little Things. You don’t want me keeping your calendar, doing your errands, borrowing your stuff. I won’t remember what I told you last time, or much of what you told me either. I won’t send you a birthday card, or a Christmas card most years. I couldn’t do homework, can’t return library books, drive around with stuff to return to stores in my car at all times, can’t mail a package. I make a habit slowly and break it easily. I’m always starting over.
You, my child, are not a failure. You are a masterpiece. You are fallible like a human being, the most human of humans. Your laugh is easy and your wit blade-sharp. Your mind pops like a firecracker; your words follow your ideas like a tail does its comet. You’ll read your book this morning; you’ll talk about it animatedly; your ideas will inspire the others; your insights will be piercing, And different. Your day will be sparkly. Your life will be a sparkly life of Big Things.