100 Days of Gladness, Day 12

Hearing a true voice from a nine-year-old child



image courtesy of stock.adobe.com

(Names have been changed here to honor the privacy of the people involved. But this story is true. I know because I was there. This is one of my favorite memories from 2023.)

One evening, during a recent holiday, we were just about to watch Dirty Rotten Scoundrels together, everyone was assembled in our friends’ rec room.

Suddenly, the lights went down for a surprise performance.

Reese, (short for Nareese, the nine-year-old daughter of our hosts), came into the room as the lights went up. She had dressed up classy. Black skirt, white blouse. Simple. Gorgeous.

For about five minutes, she tried to start the song. She’d clear her throat, then silence. Then she’d laugh. Sammy (her same age cousin) tried to encourage her, but that turned into him taking over and hamming it up, which didn’t work.

There were nine adults in the room, and a smattering of teenaged siblings and cousins.

Reese gave up trying to sing. She walked off the ‘stage,’ saying, “Maybe tomorrow.” A flurry of whispered protests followed her — from her supportive sibs, and from us, trying to change her mind.

In the heart of this moment Sammy rushed into the limelight and sang, or rather mock-sang the song Reese was going to sing. He didn’t get very far because she stormed back in and pushed him down to his seat. He kept piping up. She kept shutting him down. This went on for a little longer than I was comfortable with.

When my irritation threatened to become visible, little Jiminy B. Cricket in my heart (the B is for Buddha) reminded me to be curious.

What is this impatience? Why do I want this moment to be over? Why is what I want” so frickin’ important? The answer: Adults are important. Enough with the back and forth. Either do it or don’t. Stop wasting our time.

Yes, I thought those thoughts. Not proud of it, but there it is. I watched my mind-garbage stream by like water. I watched as my ego tried to assert itself, trying to make itself real by forming a “me” (me) and a “want” (the movie) and an “obstacle” (Reese’s decision to sing, her shyness, everyone’s indulgence). You have…




Novelist. Poet. Musician. Buddhist. Quilter. Animal lover. Visible grownup. Hidden child. Secret dancer when all alone. Makes good bread.