sitting quietly doing nothing

June 28th, 2010

Last week my daughter finished fourth grade.

At the beginning of the year her teacher asked the students to make a time capsule from a cardboard cylinder and fill it with artifacts. Inside went a self-portrait; a hand print; names of favorite foods, movies and books; and a list of goals for the year ahead. She opened it on the last day of school, and this was what it said:

What I would like to learn this year:
1. Pi
2.More long division
3.More multiplication
4.To type

What I would like to accomplish in school this year:
1. Math Field Day
2. Student Council

What I would like to accomplish at home this year:
1. Middle split
2. Back handspring

What I would like to do to become a better person:
1. Volunteer at the aquarium

I record these things here not for her, but for me. I had not one thing to do with anything on this list, and she did them all. I no longer know what pi is or does, and any handsprings I do are mere metaphors. I post it to remind myself that her life is her own, and to make space for it to grow in every direction. To trust her able hands, agile mind, limber legs and passionate heart. To delight in the scenery and to marvel at the change. To keep company with her ā€“ silent, loving, loyal company ā€“ and to leave her off my list.

Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself.

For an up-close view of what I mean, see what my friend Pixie saw in my patch of paradise. The photo credit is hers.


  1. What a beautiful list and a beautiful post. Thank you.

    Comment by Steph — June 28, 2010 @ 3:52 pm

  2. Lovely!

    Comment by Imelda — June 28, 2010 @ 4:24 pm

  3. Maybe you can get her to explain pi to you! Teachers can be students too.

    Comment by Neil — June 28, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

  4. True. She hasn’t stopped teaching me yet.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — June 28, 2010 @ 7:29 pm

  5. Maybe the only parenting advice any of us ever need…

    Comment by Lisa — June 28, 2010 @ 8:03 pm

  6. ohhhh I love this so much. I love the idea of leaving her off your list. Wow. Mine is nearly 4 and it reminds me to remember that.

    Comment by Katie Murphy — June 29, 2010 @ 12:55 am

  7. And, may I leave my daughter off of my list, too!

    Comment by Mama Zen — June 29, 2010 @ 2:51 am

  8. I love that almost half of her goals are math related.

    Comment by Jane — June 29, 2010 @ 3:08 am

  9. Thank you for giving me hope. They may fare well despite me.

    Comment by Shalet — June 29, 2010 @ 4:53 am

  10. Lovely poetic reflections! šŸ™‚

    Comment by puerhan — June 29, 2010 @ 9:15 am

  11. How sweet this is! Much love to Georgia (and to you, too, of course!)…Liliana STILL has imaginary friends, and one of them is named Georgia, after your Georgia!

    Comment by Elissa — June 29, 2010 @ 12:45 pm

  12. Lovely and so amazing to come to see our children growing and blossoming on their very own.

    Comment by 6512 and growing — June 29, 2010 @ 2:32 pm

  13. I loved your line about leaving your beloved daughter ‘off’ your list…

    Thanks for this!

    Comment by Beth Patterson — June 29, 2010 @ 3:20 pm

  14. Somehow it seems to me that observing and nurturing a new life in this world reflects upon the core of our reason for existing …. it is always interesting and sometimes stunning!

    Comment by Mary Petro — August 11, 2010 @ 8:04 pm

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