"Um, what are you doing?"
My wife stepped carefully over a paint can and one of my legs. She peered quizzically at my lower half, sticking out from under my 8-year-old’s newly painted desk as if I was tuning up a car.
"I’m teaching Kayla a lesson."
"By painting under her desk?”
"Wait, what? That’s a lesson?"
"It’s one of the most important ones I know. I’m also inscribing a note."
I finished up, snapped a photo of the inscription and popped out from below. I showed her the photo on my phone.
The desk was a present. My daughter turns 8 today and more than ever I feel like a father. It’s not just her age that makes me feel this way, but her growing talents and my responsibilities in nurturing them. She, like me, is a Builder of Things.
She draws. She paints. She makes books (as in literally, *makes* them, from the bindings to the illustrations to the stories within). She makes puppets. She takes photos. She. Makes. Things.
And she is very, very good at what she does.
I want to help her channel her creative energy in a way that will let her inspire others as she grows. She is a next generation maker and the creative tools already at her disposal make my childhood tools look like Play-Doh in comparison (because, actually that’s what it was). She will be leaps and bounds ahead of me. I want to pass on some of the lessons that I only learned in my twenties and thirties, now, while she is still moldable.
This particular lesson is simple:
I’m not going to tell her there is an inscription under her desk or even that I painted all the areas normally hidden from view. But one day - probably at some point over this year or the next - she will be playing hide and seek and find shelter under the desk. Maybe she’ll be recovering a lost toy and happen to look up. She might notice that I have taken time to painstakingly paint an area of her desk that is normally never seen.
She might not.
But at some point in the near future, she will notice the inscription:
And then, I hope, the lesson will be learned.
More to come on Twitter @avimuchnick.