Yesterday I saw a tweet from Gabrielle Blair about an interview with Mo Willems. I immediately clicked over, as our family has long been enchanted by the storytelling and humor of Mo Willems. Imagine my surprise when just a few hours later, Avery came home and immediately said, “Wanna see me draw a pigeon?” It was one of those moments when instinct trumped interest. Don’t get me wrong, I was curious about how she’d draw a pigeon, but I had so much to finish before five. When I say instinct, it was the mom side of me, not the professional.
I slid into the seat next to her and smiled as she said, “Well, you begin with the a circle, but wait, there isn’t just one circle, there are two.” Her little hands worked together, one holding the paper steady, the other deliberately holding the pencil as it scratched and slid over the heavy, white stock. “Then the circle gets confused and gets long and sideways.” I stifled a gasp as the Mo Willems’ Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus pigeon came to life on the page.
“Ave, honey that is exactly the pigeon from the book!” Her sisters scampered over to look. Briar, the unimpressable, older sister did an Oscar worthy double take and clapped her sister on the shoulder. “That is!” while Finley prattled on about the bossiness and funny ways of the pigeon in the book. After the first pigeon came another and then another. She drew them in varying sizes and eventually began altering their stance ever so slightly.
I sat rapt, nearly unable to comprehend that Avery was using her hand and memory to create this image. Someone had, without my knowledge, given Avery tools I didn’t have. She shared them with me with such casualness, I struggled not to change the tone of what was happening, but then I realized it wasn’t happening to her. This was my milestone. The shape of a time when my daughters will manifest entirely new things, more permanent than a sweet turn of phrase, rose before me. The pigeon was a dissertation; a travel itinerary for places I’ve never been. Yesterday afternoon as I sat in the waning afternoon light watching my child, my axis tipped and I went from imagining she could do anything, to realizing she already has.