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  • Earlier in the school year, I asked my daughter if she would participate in the poetry contest.

    She said she would, but I never saw her write anything.

    Every so often I'd ask if she had done her poem.

    Each time she replied, "I'm thinking about it."

    I refused to tamper with her mental space. Mahri's mental space is an imaginary 40,000 square foot Disney castle with maids, cooks, fairies and pedicurists.

    Mahri's way of "thinking about" writing includes hours on the DVR of "Untamed and Uncut" and "World's Dumbest." Mahri is nine and "thinking about it" means hours of relaxation with white paper, scissors, origami, paper dresses, paper dolls, and craft work she doesn't voluntarily clean up.

    The house was often a disaster, mostly Mahri's messes. I submitted to the reality that I totally blow at this Mommy thing.

    Finally, Mahri composed her poem. "Do you think it will win?" she asked me.

    "Probably," I said and shooed her off to school where her 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Efird, had spent the quarter teaching her students iambic pentameter, commas, colons and all those things that make poems perfect.

    I had spent the entire semester begging, urging, pleading mostly non-traditional college students not to write boring papers. After all, I really must read them and first day ice breakers proved none of us, including their instructor, were avid readers.

    Last week, I spent a full 72 hours grading those "better not be boring" portfolios as a whole. I am sure nothing will recover me from the trauma of engaging with so many people in three days. Maybe a full day under the sun at the lake. If I can find time.

    This morning, Mahri delivered a letter from the Young Writers of America poetry panel. Dear Parents of Mahri Rai Ford, Congratulations!

    The panel of educators selected Mahri's work for publication in this year's anthology.

    I am super grateful for having the opportunity to watch Mahri plow through the creative process. I spend hours thinking about it too.

    This morning, I woke feeling awfully uninspired. I'm still tired from the semester but there is some relief and joy knowing that I do not suck at this artist in residence, Mom thing.

    In fact, I friggin rock at it.

    photo: Mahri inscribed her name in the sidewalk with a stick and the help of a city worker who poured concrete that day. She is the only person in town named Mahri.
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