I started journaling with our daughter today. When the TV isn’t on and there is nobody to play with, she needs direction. So I thought we’d have a little fun and read through my first diary together (the diary of Dear Diary, fame).
It turns out I was a year older than she is when I began keeping a journal. My Grandma (the one with the emergency gin) gave me my first diary on my eighth birthday. And boy are those pages dull. As excited as I was to dig the diary out, I was disappointed when I read the first few pages. They give me little insight into her seven year old brain, except to confirm our suspicion that she thinks no deep thoughts.
After reading entries like “I got a barby doll a frisby and Hi Q powder and a brush,” (we obviously hadn’t learned punctuation yet in school), our daughter cocked her head, ran her finger over the inch-thick tome and said, “Do we have to read this whole thing?”
Little does she know how juicy it gets when I am 11.
“It’s pretty boring isn’t it? I didn’t write about what I was feeling, or describe anything – what things looked like, smelled like – or anything, did I? No interesting details.”
She nodded, then giggled a lot. Maybe she didn’t want to hurt my feelings.
Or maybe she’s just nervous about journaling. I suggested we write after reading through my diary. Like every writer, age 7 to 77, she said, “But I don’t know what to write about!”
So I gave her some prompts. “Well, Nana gave you the journal, so you could write about what it’s like to visit Nana and Papa.”
She giggled some more. Maybe that was too abstract. Not current enough. After all, it’s been almost three whole weeks since we saw them.
“Or you could write about sledding yesterday.”
She thought about that one.
“You could even write about reading my boring diary with me.”
At that she giggled hysterically and then said, “No, I don’t think so.”
Her dad burped in the kitchen, one of those deep, gurgly belches that boys are so proud of. “You could write about that,” he yelled.
“I am,” I said.
Our daughter, though, either didn’t hear him or is ignoring him. She is on her belly on the couch, pink-toed socks waving in the air, the capped end of her glittery gold pen tapping her mouth as she “Hmmmms” and sighs. What is running through that little mind of hers? She covers her page so I can’t see.
“What are you writing about, Mom?” she asks.
“I’m writing about writing with you.” And I pat her little tush.
I plan to continue this practice with her. Maybe every Saturday. I want her to get comfortable, to warm to the pages, to get to the point where she realizes the diary can be her confidante. So that one day, when she’s 11, and she needs to puzzle something out privately, she can write, like I did,
I want to talk to you about something. Boys.