let her doodle

she doodles everywhere.

faces and shapes and lines. simple and complex. fantastical, nonsensical free flow and elaborate, deliberate worlds.

on letters, and envelopes, and the back of her sisters advent calendar. on the clipboard attached to the wall above my desk. on checks waiting to make it into my bank account. on my to-do list. on her homework.

blank space? property of another? no, it’s just an expanse of paper waiting to be filled by what spills from her brain and hand and heart.


have you noticed? i ask. she is drawing everywhere these days, it’s amazing. maybe we should find her an art class.

maybe she needs boundaries, comes the reply. yes, boundaries – so she won’t draw on things that are not hers. there is a time and place for this.

maybe, I hesitate. maybe. but maybe this is something magical. something to pay attention to. maybe we could cultivate it. encourage it. help her let loose what is bubbling inside.

like the drumming, i add. like the way she makes rhythm on the window pane, or the table, or her legs. like she’s got music inside her. that could be magical too.

it’s just doodling. everyone does it. all kids draw. and drum.


of course they do. but not all adults. we don’t all draw. we don’t all drum out the beat of our hearts on every available surface. we forget all of that and shrink into ourselves. we say we’re not artists, not musicians, not creative. not good enough.

ever ask a kid if they can draw or sing?

YES! they’ll exclaim. YES! lets color princesses on this shopping list, and don’t you hear how this bowl sounds like a heartbeat if you tap it just so. rainbow colored trees and guitars from cardboard boxes and elastic bands. lets have a parade! YES!

they are artists and musicians and dancers and dreamers and everything else we’ve forgotten how to be.

boundaries? lines to stay inside? limitations of space or logistics or equipment? too loud? too messy? not good enough? these things are the domain of grownups.

what if our real job as parents is to nurture the magic that already lives inside our children? or, just maybe our only real job is to step out of the way. they all ready know how to give birth to their own genius, if give them enough space and trust to let it all flow out.

and what if a small part of what they are tasked with here on earth is to help tease back the layers of boundaries we’ve placed on ourselves? what if they have more to teach us about letting ourselves go than we could ever teach them about reigning themselves in? what if we just relaxed and let them help us remember the days when we lived our own lives without holding back?

back when our homework doodles and our cardboard box drum solos and our living room ballets and our bath time operas were delivered with gusto and moxie and pure bad-ass belief that we were invincible. that we were enough. that we could be artists and movie stars and trapeze artists and doctors and astronauts and mommies. all at once or one after another.

let her doodle. i say. let her remind me of my own greatness. my own wonder. let her remind me to color outside the lines of my life, to forget about self-imposed limits. that I can swing on a trapeze if I want, or fly into space. let her remind me that the heart of the story is more important than the misspelled words. that I don’t need to be dylan to make music or picaso to make art.

let her doodle. it could be the beginning of magic.

(and yes, this poured out so fast that I let capitalization be dammed.  it just seemed to interrupt the flow.)


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I swear like a sailor, I've been called a word-witch (more than once), I believe whole-heartedly in the power of your voice,  and think words are as necessary as air. I also create courses and programs that will get you writing (for reals). 

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