“What if you don’t finish?”
You are balancing the spoon on your slender index finger. The spoon is like the scales of justice. Tip. Tilt. Tip. Tilt. Tip. Tilt.
I watch you showing off your mastery of this small physics.
“You started. What if you don’t finish your Book of Beginnings?” Not even looking at the spoon, you are really showing off now, peering intently at me as you wait for an answer.
“That might work out alright, ” I say. “It’s a book of beginnings. Who would fault me if it never ended?”
Tip. Tilt. Tip. Tilt. Tip. Tilt. “Sounds like some kind of fancy writer’s rationalization. Seriously, what if you don’t finish?”
I flip my napkin lightly, fold it slowly, then look straight at you. My brown eyes are all mischief. “Where’s your book?” I ask.
Your show-off spoon tilts too far and you catch it quickly, looking a little sheepish. “What book?”
“The book you’re writing, ” I say.
“I haven’t started a book.”
I open your fingers and take the spoon, now balancing it on my own smooth fingers. “I see, ” I say.
“Ah!” you laugh. “Well-played, Princess. You’ve got me. There’s definitely something in the starting. I’ll grant you that.” You place a blueberry into the spoon and the curved end tilts your way.
I compensate and bring it back into balance. “There’s everything in the starting. No starts, no finishes. No starts, no surprises. No starts, no learning. I offered a how-to-teach-writing workshop to a group of home educators once, and this was my biggest point: who cares if your kids finish a piece of writing…just care if they start, and that of their own accord. Their kids were crying over writing, or declaring it boring, or shouting that they hated it. Don’t make them finish, I said. And let them start what they will, when they will.”
“What about discipline? You didn’t think it was important to teach them discipline?”
“What is discipline?” I put the spoon down on the table and pick the blueberry from its curve.
“Discipline is you not eating that blueberry, even though you’re holding it.”
I pop the blueberry into my mouth and burst it with a quick bite. Your eyes open wide.
“Undisciplined!” you point teasingly at me and laugh.
“Unmotivated, ” I counter. “Why should I care about not eating the blueberry? Give me one good reason.”
“Because I said it would be undisciplined if you did that.”
I lean towards you and take your hand in mine, extending your slender finger and placing the spoon on it. “Balance it now. Go ahead.”
“I’m done with that. I already proved my chivalrous ability to wield the spoon and impress you.”
“Undisciplined.” I smile.
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