I’ve had writer’s block lately. I’m just not happy with much that I’m writing down. I’ve been relying pretty heavily on previously written stuff to cover the prompts (or skipping them altogether like yesterday). This is a piece I wrote for the creative writing class I took in college.
I have a 7 year old; a small girl with dark hair and honey brown eyes. The complexity of human emotion is encompassed in her wide smile, her small hand balanced on her hip and the other clutching a blanket. She fights back against a world wrought with images of who she should be. She fights against monsters that dance through her head.
“Mama,” she says with a smile as she expands a non-existent belly, “I’m fat.” Poking her outie she stands tall and squishes the small amount of baby fat. She doesn’t understand the way world is already molding a spot for her. In a seven year old mind it’s all fun and games.
I demand to know who told her she was fat. “You are not.” I say, “You are beautiful.” Thin arms surround my neck.
“Aw, you’re beautiful too mama. I love you.” As I corral her into bed.
For the moment she is seven, wearing a pink, frilly night gown and carrying a purple dog. Her paint chipped nails clutch my hand and beg me to stay by her side. She is too young yet to navigate the world of a teenager but there she stands, already pushed to the threshold, already peering inside.
“Mama,” she says as she runs small fingers over her arms, “I’m hairy. Jackson made fun of me today because he said I had hair on my back.” Her small lips pout, her eyes water. “He tries to be the boss of me. I told him he is not.”
I count the freckles flowing across her cheeks, considering my response carefully; only to come up with, “Oh honey, you are right, he is not the boss of you.” She presses herself into my side and wraps my arm around her shoulders. She doesn’t realize that these things are for real, forever; that these are the things she will fight, she will resist, as she gets older.
“Mama,” she whispers on the verge of sleep. “A girl at school said that because my skin is tan and yours isn’t that I’m not part of your family.”
I run my fingers through her dark hair. “That is silly. Of course you are part of my family. I gave birth to you, just because you don’t look exactly like me does not mean you aren’t mine.” A light sigh followed by fluttering eyelashes.
“My teacher said I’m the Indian princess for Thanksgiving.” She rests her head on her Tinkerbell pillow and pulls her green quilt to her chin. I kiss her cheek as her eyes close for the night.
She doesn’t know that I was suspended for defending myself against a boy who constantly harassed me. She doesn’t know the names her grandmother has been called because of her tan skin. She doesn’t realize that the monsters in her mind are tame compared to the world’s interpretation of a pretty girl or a different look.
There’s a world in front of her that’s settled and set in its ways; that will require the bravery of a seven year old who does not care.
There is a day, not too far in the future, where I will have to explain. I will have to comfort her and tell her it will be alright. She will fold her body into her covers and I will rub her back. I will tell her that the world expects certain things from her because she is a girl, because she is pretty, because she does look different, but that she is capable of so much more.