I dole out the world to my children in palatable spoonfuls, pacing out truths about dangers and horrors a little at a time, gauging their readiness, giving them space. They’ll need to drink the whole bitter brew at some point in their lives, I tell myself, they’ll need to face everything ugly and cruel that humans do and have done, but not yet, not all of it yet; they can’t stomach all of it yet. Is it the very definition of privilege to be able to protect them when they’re young? Or is it my deepest parental instinct to do whatever I can to show them the beauty of the world first?
From 100 Words: The Beauty of Brevity. Word prompt: “spoonful.”
I failed my first driving test at sixteen, failed by hitting the gates out of the simulated parallel park, by narrowly missing a pedestrian crossing the road, by turning right on a red light just as a wave of traffic roared towards me from the left. The examiner’s indignant exhale of breath as I executed the first of these maneuvers was enough for me to know where this test was heading. The rest of the drive was tense and half-hearted, me already close to tears. After a year of tending my bruised ego, I signed up to try again. I clocked in hours of practice this time, my high-school boyfriend coaching me as I reversed into parking spots again and again. Now, years later, I am suddenly filled with gratitude for his patience.
For 100 Words: The Beauty of Brevity. Word prompt: “reverse”.
I came to Canada at the age of six, on a LOT flight from Warsaw. I was crammed into a single stern passport photo with my mother and two sisters, the imminent birth of the younger of which had kept us grounded in Poland when my father left six months earlier. My grandmother stayed with us at the airport hotel, her crying joining that of the baby, none of us sleeping with the planes loud overhead. We said goodbye early the next morning, her only child and her only grandchildren. On the flight my sister and I ran up and down the aisles for hours, wreathed in late Soviet-era cigarette smoke, fueled by handfuls of candy from the flight crew: the darlings of the skies. We didn’t know that we could never really go back.
For 100 Words: The Beauty of Brevity. Word prompt “Canada.”
When I was younger, I did my best writing at 3am. There was magic in the silence, in the feeling that I was floating alone in a limitless universe, in that middle-of-the-night state of exhausted delirium that got my fingers flying. Perhaps, in that nighttime haze, I briefly stopped taking myself so seriously. It was never a practical system, although doing another degree when my children were tiny and sleepless, I could sometimes alternate writing paragraphs with nursing a waking toddler. Nowadays, I treasure sleep beyond measure, shockingly even more than I treasure creative output. Instead, at any and all times of day, I practice opening the hinges of my brain; I let my eyes glaze over and grab at stray images as they fly past. Sometimes, if I can catch the tail end of a sentence, the rest will come dragging slowly behind.
From the prompt “younger” in 100 Words: the Beauty of Brevity.
When I am tired, everything in my home becomes junk: my treasured books, the art and craft supplies, my children’s toys, well-used kitchen tools, piles of laundry for sorting. I stalk around the house fuming and muttering, sweeping Lego and Magic cards off side tables and armchairs, consolidating stacks of kids’ library books, trying to sort stray items off the dining room table. “We are drowning in junk!” I roar, while my kids watch me accusingly and clutch at their valuables. It doesn’t last long. Sometimes I need to be hustled off to bed like a toddler myself. Sleep restores my sympathetic vision. What is most in my way is also what is most loved and most in use. After each spell of minimalism, I re-embrace creative, chaotic abundance. I’m learning to maintain my sanity by aligning with what is.
From the word prompt “junk.” Doing another stint of 100 Words: The Beauty of Brevity with Maya Stein. I’m going to periodically (or maybe regularly) post these short pieces here, in the order I write them. I’m relaxed about the exact word count – just enjoying the exercise of keeping things brief.