A Morning with George, Abraham, Thomas, Mozart, Hadley, and Flannery O’Connor

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.”

“Which one?”

“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.”

District 2-20140306-00783“I’m going to draw Mozart, too,” she tells me.  “You know about Mozart?”

“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?”

District 2-20140309-00788

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.


“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.”


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8 Responses to A Morning with George, Abraham, Thomas, Mozart, Hadley, and Flannery O’Connor

  1. Jessica says:

    This is a beautiful little story. Beautiful and funny and terribly accurate. Where did our free time go, our own space in which to write? Must be with that other slipper.

  2. Shelley says:

    Your daughters are hilarious! I laughed out loud in the middle of Starbucks reading this

  3. alison says:

    this piece is awesome. i, too, laughed out loud at it, probably because the interaction between your girls is so familiar. seems funnier when your kids do it. lighting each other’s fires and what not… i love your story telling. and i love those prayers. let me love my little space too.

    • calliefeyen says:

      I have to say, it was pretty funny when it happened. I love that Harper said she was “robbed.” Where did she get that word? Of course, if 50 thousand other things are going on at the same time, it’s a bit more difficult to find the funny and love the space. As I’m sure you know. :)

  4. Kelly R. says:

    That’s so awesome…I like how they think! And that Flannery O’Connor quote (the last one) is great. I’m stealing it. :) BTW…read in a previous post that you’re reading God For Us…me too! (And I have the Advent one as well.) It came a few weeks ago, but finally just had time today to crack it open. So good!

    • calliefeyen says:

      Yes, that’s a great quote, isn’t it? And the God With Us/God For Us books are fabulous. Gregory Wolfe is Director of the MFA program that I’m in, and God With Us was one of the reasons I wanted to be in that program.

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