Beyond Measure

Just THINK : ABOUT IT : Just write a title, YOUR thoughts....ENJOY! :) The Little Prince’s report card came home with him yesterday. After we went over it and I hugged him, he happily buzzed away to do whatever it is a ten-year-old boy does to usher in the freedom of Winter Break. (I.e., he headed for his video games as fast as his legs could carry him.)

Me? I sat at the table and cried.

I could hear all those voices from my childhood, screaming in the dark, cobwebbed halls I don’t often visit. The ones I only open up long enough to verify yep, still nasty, still horrible and let a bit of the steam leak out so they don’t explode.

*An A? Just an A? Why isn’t it an A+?
*You’re lazy, you’ll never amount to anything.
*You’re supposed to be a lawyer/doctor! I couldn’t be one, so you have to! Don’t disappoint me!
*That artsy shit will never put food on the table.
*Head in the clouds. You’re lazy and worthless. What are you good for?
*You’ll never make it out in the real world. And you’re not pretty enough to marry.
*Artist? Ha. You can’t even wash dishes right.

Anything that even vaguely smacked of art, or of pleasure, or of culture, or even of happiness, was frowned upon, if not actively beaten into the ground. My love of books was ridiculed, and the books themselves were torn in half, taken away, spat on. My journals were read (except the ones I hid at school, thank you, Madame P, you saved my life) and I was punished for what I dared to write. No grade was ever good enough. Nothing was ever perfect enough.

On my son’s report card: “*Little Prince’s name* has become quite a writer! He often chooses to write during his daily free time. He has three stories he is actively working on, and many more inside his head. It’s great to see him loving writing and reading so much!

The Princess draws anime and manga characters. She’s not quite the voracious reader I was at her age, but she’s actively writing stories and books (including one massive multigenerational could-be-a-huge-ass-manga-series tome that I suspect outweighs War and Peace by now); art supplies are her fondest wish this Yule. “I might not make a living at it,” she says, “but anything’s possible. Hard work can do things! Also, I could be an astronomer.”

They are not afraid to dream, to breathe, to do, to be.

I cried for the child I was, and I cried for joy that my children do not know the suffocation of having their voices stifled. Neither of them can imagine a book being torn, slaps and kicks, being belittled or silenced at home. I am glad beyond words that it’s unthinkable for them. It doesn’t change what I endured, nothing can.

But it gives me hope and strength beyond measure.

If you are reading this, no matter who you are, I have something to tell you: you do not have to be silent. You have a voice, your own voice, and what you can say with it is something nobody else can ever say. It is unique, it is marvelous, and it is all yours. It makes the world a richer place. It can lead you out of darkness and stop the cycle of abuse; it can help you share the happiest life and upbringing as well. You don’t have to write with it–paint, sing, dance, make papier-mache molds of priapic elephants, specialize in Belgian pastries, whatever wonderful thing that makes joy bubble all through you.

During the Winter Solstice when the bright half of the year is reborn, when the planet starts its tilt back toward summer and the nights become a little shorter, when the dreidel spins or the Mars Rover grants us more data about our amazing universe, it never hurts to remind you that even if things are bad now, you will sooner or later have a chance to let your voice free. Keep believing, keep it safe and close inside you if you have to, a coal of resistance.

If you need permission, if you need encouragement, if you need someone to tell you it’s okay, well, consider yourself told, consider permission given, consider this encouragement from the very floor of my being. It is never too late to begin unloosing your marvelous voice, in whatever fashion. You have something to give the world. Write it. Play it. Dance it. Sing it. Keep doing it. Keep writing, keep going, keep doing.

One day it may save someone. And that someone might not be you.

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames, where there are giveaways, sneak peeks, and tons of fun. Check us out!

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Danielle
Danielle

A childhood not unlike my own. We showed ’em Lili, we showed ’em.

particle_person
particle_person

“Crossposted to the Deadline Dames, where there are giveaways, sneak peeks, and tons of fun.” Yeah, tons. Jeez Louise, I suppose it’s pointless to want to go back in time and yell at people you haven’t met (and frankly, it’s just as well). But I’m glad your kids won’t have those voices. I know someone (online) who is in that position right now, and she’s over 18, but she depends on her parents to pay her medical bills and tuition while she finishes college. I asked if she wanted a holiday card this year, and the answer was “no, my… Read more »

Colleen Champagne
Colleen Champagne

Your writing has always moved me but this? This made me cry. I may not totally understand what it took to put this out there but thank you for doing it.

martianmoncrab
martianmoncrab

you are better than them.. and you shine! Your kids are amazing people… you do good work no matter on what.

Smeech
Smeech

You showed them. You have numerous successful book series and have brought joy to thousands, if not millions of readers. They ripped up your books? You have created books.

You bought a house. You are a proud dog owner and jogger. You seem to be raising 2 normal, happy kids.

You won. They lost. Happy holidays.

Mary
Mary

Oh, Lili, sometimes you break my heart, then you turn around an fill it with joy and hope. My childhood had its difficulties, but not in the same way. We can either let those difficulties rule us as adults, or we can tell them to fuck off like you did. I wish you the best.

Mary

Angela
Angela

I used to think I was the only person whose parents punished them for reading. They used to call it an “addiction” when, of course, it was actually an escape from the abusive family I had no other escape from as a child.

Thanks as always for telling the truth, and for throwing that rope for others to catch.

cheryl
cheryl

What an amazing post. I admit, I didn’t read the whole thing, because I nearly started crying when I got about 3 paragraphs from the end, and I’m supposed to be working right now — but I will come back to it and read the rest another time.

Thank you for being so brave to share these thoughts and offer encouragement to others.

Damiana
Damiana

You are an *awesome* mom. And they sound like truly awesome kids, too. And yes. All those voices, telling you you’re not good enough, you can’t succeed, you should just give up? Go tell them to suck icicles. It may take a while. It will probably take more than six months. It will take work, and it will be hard, and sometimes it will be harder. But you can do what you’ve always dreamed of doing. You CAN learn how to do it. How to do ANYTHING. You can learn how to do anything, well enough to be “good enough”… Read more »

Mike Oliveri
Mike Oliveri

I suspect that’s what qualified as “parenting” back in the day: squash everything because the odds are against the kid anyway. “You’re not good at this. May as well quit,” was a popular one with my old man.

We push on anyway because we have to.

Side note: your beyond measure comment put me in mind of this motivational video. I dig it. Maybe you will, too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqpQzT1Kbuk

Take care,
Mike

ellen
ellen

You are amazing. You display strength and compassion beyond measure. Thank you for sharing that.

Shannon
Shannon

Thank you.