My inveterate journal keeping seems to have been passed down to my younger daughter. In our recent move, I sorted through lots of stuff (SO MUCH STUFF) and found many pieces of art and writing by my children. My favorite is Eliza (now Liza)’s journal from first grade. She had a fabulous and inspiring teacher that year named Miss Mackenzie. In this journal, Liza chronicles events of the year that she may not remember now, but I am pleased to have my memory jogged, since my own journal keeping has become erratic. Every entry comes complete with illustrations. The spelling is insane, in a delightful way: icsitid is excited, bab is dad, rilly is really, osme is awesome—you get the idea. But damn, that girl is expressive. What strikes me is the dedication to record, which I had and have myself. Maybe the journal is not as compelling to readers not her mother. But I will transcribe one entry anyway. Perfect punctuation, I note.
Last nite I wact my Dog in the felld. Thar was SO many clovrs. I junpt in them and from far awal it lookt like wite grass! OR some peple spillt a lot of Pant Bakits on the grass.
Translation: Last night I walked my dog in the field. There were SO many clovers. I jumped in them and from far away it looked like white grass! Or some people spilled a lot of paint buckets on the grass.
Liza will be 20 in less than two weeks. I see the little girl in the young woman, kaleidoscoping back through all the girls she has been. She is a terrific writer, and now an almost perfect speller. She is busy tonight writing a paper that’s due at midnight, so couldn’t talk when I called her. She has been pandemicking with a college friend in upstate New York. We miss her, but rereading her first grade journal keeps her close.
Lovely, Allie. From your diaries to Eliza’s. I remember when Nikhil was starting to write like that. They believed in “invented spelling” in Amherst, something that was absolutely horrifying to me at first, but it worked. The idea was that the children shouldn’t have their enthusiasm for expressing themselves in writing dampened by correction of their spelling. As the theory went, their spelling could self-correct as they started reading more; and it did. You’re absolutely correct about Eliza’s flawless punctuation, but also her vivid imagery. And the reader is right there with her seeing the clover just as she does. x J
She has been a writer all along! Thank you.