I've started reading The Happiness Project. Something light, I thought. One of her first changes was going to bed earlier. So here I am at 9:30pm, phone by my bed, ready to read, but first I want to call Victoria, make sure she's okay after last night. Her good friends' baby is in the hospital and my daughter is worried sick, wanting to camp out in the intensive care, but we'd sent her home to bed.
We chat. Victoria is doing homework. Baby is doing better. Victoria starts telling me about her day and asks if I've heard of Monica Goulet. The poet, I ask. Yes. Then Victoria reads me her poem from English today, "Just Remember". http://www.mun.ca/educ/faculty/hammett/just.htm We were talking about world view, Victoria says.
The last half of the poem hits me because we just started Macbeth in one of my classes today. I am an English teacher, after all.
And maybe just maybe, you'll finally accept
that I too have ancestors that were
articulate, creative, perceptive, intelligent
But don't continue to expect me to embrace
your Shakespeares, Mozarts, Picassos, and
I can no more be like them than I could be
like your Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella,
Rapunzel or Barbie.
Nor do I wish to be.
And my ancestors and I grow weary of
telling you this...
I'm proud of Victoria for being able to hear Monica Goulet's worldview with an open heart.
Victoria tells me of her history essay on Louis Riel. "What would you do, Mom," she says, "If you had to be on that jury. Would you decide guilty or innocent?"
"I can't even think about that situation without being angry," I say.
I wish I had just left it there, but Victoria and I continue talking, and it's getting later and later, and I'm more and more tired, and my tone becomes irritible, passionate, angry. I tell Victoria that her essay question is biased. What would you vote, guilty or innocent? This assumes that the process itself is fair, that there was a guilty or innocence. A nation leader watching his people become more and more voiceless: hungry and oppressed. How can he be accused of treason when he is trying to save his people?
Somehow the conversation morphs into an argument where Victoria thinks I think she's narrow minded and priviledged and where I think she thinks I'm hot headed and tunnel visioned.
We're both in tears by the time Michael steps in. I have dedicated so much energy trying to learn how to communicate "in a good way" and here I am again, arguing and angry with my own daughter who walks the talk of anti-racism every day.
When I was little, my dad's answer for everything was, "You're just tired." Maybe The Happiness Project is on to something. I'm going to try to be in bed every night at 9:30 this week because maybe Dad's right; maybe I'm just tired.