“Boys smell like b.o. and goodness, mom…”

22 years ago my 2nd daughter was born.  In meticulously planned fashion, 9 mos. of a worried pregnancy ended.  High tech tests and equipment gave way in a few still moments to the collective breath holding of nine neonatal specialists gathered for the moment.  At five lbs. 4 ozs. she was on the edge.  Incubator?  No incubator?  It would be up to her.  To hold the heat in her body – to regulate her own temperature.  And the little beautiful, dark skinned, dark haired beauty held her own right from the first cry.  She’s been doing that ever since.  This year she will graduate college at nearly a 4.0 and begin to dissect the grad program offerings that are before her.  There is geography, first and foremost.  And then there is city school vs. campus school.  These should not be her #1 priorities, yet they are.  And I do understand the beautiful way her mind works.  I’ve been collecting her wisdom words for years.

The latest challenge is her essay for grad school packages. And she lacks focus.  She is a fine writer, this young woman.  She sees the world differently.  Yet she gets rewarded in academia for conformity.  I push her to resist – as much as possible – not so much as to jump over that “A” letter grade.  She rides the academic seesaw of creativity – see – which only the fine professors appreciate.  And she plummets – saw – to the ground in order to conform with those who don’t.  She keeps asking me to help her.  And I choose to challenge.  To go with my gut that those who will read this essay might be those who “see”.  I look through my book of wisdom words and I remember the words she said to me one night after talking about the first boy she thought was cute.  “Boys smell like b.o. and goodness, mom…”  So I tell her to start her essay with those words.  And let it take her where it will.  And I’m pretty sure that she’ll hold her own, just as she did on that early morning, when we all just held our breath…and watched….


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