Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Something Worth Shouting About

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Something Worth Shouting About

Article excerpt

WHEN my daughter Hallie was small, my mother and I took her to the city to buy her first pair of shoes. When the white cotton laces were tied, her well-padded ankles puffed out above the shoe tops like rag-doll legs. Up until this day she had worn only soft slippers. I wondered if she would resist the sturdier shoe. Her grandmother held her right hand, and I held her left. Swinging between us, Hallie did an intricate little dance step that I've never seen duplicated - even on the stage.

It is the "firsts" of my children that draw me to parenthood like a ball to a jack. I remember the first lunch box I bought, the first time my children tasted solid food, and the first time my daughter ate lunch with her great-grandmother. She was uncharacteristically quiet for a four year old. Later she told me she was trying to count the wrinkles in Gram's face.

"It's a good thing you didn't count out loud," said my son to emphasize a first lesson in sensitivity.

I was in the garden last night when Hallie shouted "light desserts" with such puissance that I found myself rushing into the house to see what had happened.

"I can read it," she said and lifted the blue-and-red cereal box above her head. "The gh," she said "says nothing." She looked a bit disgusted, as though the builders of language clearly had a few weak spots in their foundation.

It seems fitting that my daughter's learning-to-read experience coincides with the birth of some swallows whose parents have built a nest outside Hallie's bedroom window. The bird's determined swoops and precise dives remind me of Hallie's approach to any new task. I've tried to capture her on film for some of these new beginnings, but there's always a bit of a blur where she's flown from the confines of a pose. Perhaps it is this quality that makes her "firsts" ring out with all the resonance of a brass band.

Our family is about to fly east on a journey we took by car two years ago. …

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