“She is talking about Poe and Poe’s influence on the modern literature and I know I should be listening…I mean REALLY listening rather than just pretending—but I am not…I am making dinner and thinking about whether I need to do a load of laundry.” Ms. Churchlady confessed to me years ago. I did not understand her quandary, or guilt, then. It was not until I had The Beast did I realize the amount of listening it takes to be a parent.
The Beast, like Ms. Churchlady’s daughter, is a born storyteller….so you can imagine the quantity of listening that we do. From the time she could talk she had stories. One of her first longer “works” started with a baby blanket wrapped around her head and shoulders like a shawl. The three year old Beast informed us that she was a little girl from a far away village where the whole village had only a large block of cheese to eat…they had to eat with their hands they were so poor. She did look like a little girl from some post Soviet eastern-bloc country. They were very hungry she continued….and they were very tired of eating cheese in their little village so she was sent out to find food.
Her story was SO long, involved and dramatic that we got the video camera out to film and after about twenty minutes we began to worry that perhaps instead of getting out the camera we should get out the phone and start calling up a.) a psychiatrist b.) an exorcist or c.) psychic who specializes in former lives. Her stories have continued and we continue to listen..some are made up stories, others are about her life outside our realm—both tend to be somewhat scary and totally engrossing.
I was talking to my brother the other day who was wondering why I was so lame and only taking one night course a semester to finish my masters degree. The Beast was grown-up enough to be left alone for longer periods of time he argued.
I explained that I feel my job is to listen…to listen and just be there for The Beast. There seems to be huge push for people to rush through life and get a lot of stuff done, rather then enjoying what we have. When I am not there to listen to The Beast—I feel Mrs. Churchlady’s guilt. I want to see and hear the changes The Beast is going through—she is my creation and I love to see her evolve and grow. I watch and listen to her with a mix of spine tingling terror and deep joy. I am totally engrossed.