Last week around 6:15 one morning, I was at the table trying to think about what to write about Flannery O’Connor’s prayer journal when Hadley struts in, fully dressed, swipes a piece of paper off a stack and says, “Dare me to draw something.”
She was going on a field trip that day, so I say, “I dare you to draw what you think you’ll learn on your field trip.”
“No, no,” she says. “I’m talking about the Presidents.”
“OK, draw a President.”
“Draw Thomas Jefferson.”
“I don’t know him.”
“OK, who do you know?”
“George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Barck Obama.”
“OK, I dare you to draw them.”
“Yes, I know about Mozart,” I say.
“Yeah, I was reading about him in Calvin and Hobbes.” Hadley pronounces Hobbes’ name like this: Hob-bis. “Calvin said that Mozart wrote his first concerto when he was three years old.” Hadley starts to giggle and then says, “And then Calvin says, ‘I don’t think I was potty trained at three years old!’ HAHAHAHAHA! Mama?”
“When was I potty trained?”
“You were around two and a half, I think.”
She keeps drawing and I keep thinking about Flannery O’Connor. She told God that she wanted to do whatever it took to be a good writer, except, she told Him, she wouldn’t become a nun. I loved that line. I’d like to make a list of all the things I won’t do to become a writer and send them God’s way, but I don’t know if I’m brave enough to do that.
“Mama, what do you know about Abraham Lincoln?”
“Well, I know he wrote the Gettysburg Address that states all men are created equal.”
“Yeah, MEN not women,” Hadley tells me. She’s not happy about this.
“I think he meant women, too.”
“Well, he didn’t say it. I mean, women couldn’t even go to the movies back then.”
“I don’t think there were movies back then.”
“You know what I mean. They couldn’t go to a play or a concert.”
“I think Mrs. Lincoln was with Abraham Lincoln when he got shot.” This is a terrible way to prove a point, I am thinking.
“Well OF COURSE, Mama! He was the President of the United States! She could do anything she wanted because of him! Who’s Thomas Jefferson? Do you think he looked like this?”
Harper joins us. She is only wearing one slipper and I ask her why.
“I can’t find the other one,” she tells me. “I think I’ve been robbed.”
“Someone robbed you and stole one slipper?” Hadley asks, smiling.
The fire has been lit.
“YES, HADLEY! I’VE BEEN ROBBED! WHAT ELSE COULD EXPLAIN IT?”
“But dear God,” O’Connor writes, “please give me some place, no matter how small, but let me know it and keep it.”
The three of us sit around the table. Harper takes a piece of paper and starts to draw. She’s working on hearts and stars and rainbows. She plays with patterns and colors whereas Hadley likes to sketch and look at details.
“If I am the one to wash the second step everyday, let me know it and let me wash it and let my heart overflow with love washing it. Whatever it is, let me do it, and let me love it.”
To this second to last prayer in O’Connor’s journal, I say, “Yes, thank you, and Amen.”