Keats may have said that beauty is truth, but I take issue with whether truth is beauty. Especially after reading a memoir by my ten-year-old this week. Granted, memoir to a fifth grader is a fuzzy concept. Let's just say he took a lot of artistic license.
This was part of "curriculum hour" in Jacob's classroom, where parents are led around to view the various tools and topics their progeny are engaged with during a typical school day. Let me tell you, there is nothing like a day in the life of your fifth grader to deliver a crushing blow to your previous sense of intellectual superiority. It turns out I'm actually not smarter than a fifth grader, at least when it comes to the latest technology. And science? I may be able to spell buoyancy, but don't ask me to define its principle.
But then Jacob shared his writing folder with me, including his journals, memoirs and fiction pieces. This was what I had been waiting for, and I enjoyed his descriptions of campouts, contests and other experiences he'd had. But the one that he had typed up on fancy paper for me to take home (and frame?) was called Rings on a Pillow. It was his memory of the day he was a ring bearer in my cousin's wedding three and a half years ago.
It began impressively with a building sense of anticipation prior to the ceremony, a great alliteration about the sound of his shoes hitting the floor as he walked down the aisle, and the crowd of hundreds with all eyes on him. I beamed with pride when I read how "the bride was dithering over the groom's tie." What fifth grader uses a word like dithering? Surely, he'll be a writer one day, I smiled to myself.
And then I got to the next paragraph, where he talked about me. I read his description of me wiping my "teary red eyes with a hankie." Red eyes? It sounds devilish, or at least very unattractive, although I conceded to myself that he was going for a visual image. But the next line was like a smack across my head:
"My loud-mouthed, hard-to-please mom smiled."
Now wait just a cotton-pickin' minute. Did he read this to the class? Did he get any feedback from his teacher? What, exactly, ran through her head when she read that line? And how am I supposed to hold my head up at the next parent-teacher conference?
But worst of all, is this how Jacob really sees me? Loud-mouthed? Hard to please? Just because I don't let him play LEGOs from the moment he gets home until bed time, but actually make him do homework, practice piano and eat vegetables? Indeed, if that's the case, there is no beauty in truth. At least not when you're ten.
I'm going to tell myself that he did this for effect, to illustrate that an 'ear-to-ear smile' is not something I flash every day, but that the wedding was a special occasion.
And you can be sure that we'll be having a little talk about his writing, when I'll promise him free editing services on any future works he produces--especially memoirs--from now until I die.
Hopefully he'll accept, thus preventing what would surely be my premature death by mortification.