fourteen – the thing

In one of my fantasies, NPR’s Terry Gross asks Dora how she first became interested in her field.  

Dora will laugh and say her parents gave her lessons at a young age, and the minute she was first introduced to this world she felt a sense of peace and happiness, “I just knew this was for me,” she’ll say.  

There’d be a pause, which Terry will wait for Dora to fill, and after a few beats Dora will giggle and say, “So, if you’re listening, thanks, Mom and Dad!” At this part in the broadcast, David and I will squeeze each others’ hand and smile humbly.

David might even say something like, “See? I told you all along she was fine!” Yet I won’t even kick him,  not even a little.  I’d just nod and smile.   I might even say, “You were right.”

That is how relieved I’ll be to know, in every cell of my body, that Dora turned out okay. 

We have thrown thousands of hopeful dollars at the following potential channels for Dora’s insatiable energy and creativity, channels including and not limited to the following:

Gymnastics lessons

Art lessons

Ballet lessons

Horseback riding

Jewelry making

Finnish language and culture


Cartoon drawing lessons

Swimming lessons

Theatre camp

Jazz dance lessons

Sewing lessons

Piano lessons

Cooking experiences

Girl Scouts


Craft camp

Each class was requested by Dora herself, who genuinely loved every experience for a full two weeks before claiming boredom, or telling a tale of a social slight – real or imagined – perpetrated by a teacher or a fellow student.  

Sometimes I’d make her stick with something for four or five months, because isn’t that what all successful adults are thankful for later?  For parents who made them stick with it even when they didn’t want to?  Soon, however, I’d see the futility of forcing her to continue and we’d stop going.  

Okay,” David and I would say, re-grouping, “Maybe piano just isn’t her thing. No worries. She’ll find her thing. The most important thing is to introduce her to all sorts of experiences.”

But what, then, is her thing? Other kids seem to do things for periods of time longer than a two weeks. What is Dora’s thing?  What if her thing ends up being drugs or suing people? 

What is your thing, my beautiful mystery?  What can we give you?

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