When I was teaching full-time in Florida and working on things called portfolios, I was certain that the only way to have a new idea was to make older ideas get married. Once I introduced empathy to resistance so that they could get married and have a baby named “creativity,” which worked well because, as I discovered, creativity is one-part understanding and one-part resistance anyway. Then, amidst all the baby-making, I had one for myself, and while I know there’s some of me in Clara, I hope there’s a little of Clara in me, too.
Here are the Clara-Rules that I’d like to follow:
1. Feed Them Cheerios Until They Stop Barking
Whenever Dakota gets to wanting things he shouldn’t, like everything Clara eats, Clara hangs a Cheerio over his nose and teases. Then, when he’s come to grips with the controlling nature of his own desires, she gently places it on his tongue, like a baby priest.
2. When You Don’t Understand Someone, Talk in Gibberish
Fitness Instructor Boss Lady: Don’t wrap the wire around the headphones, drape it over them.
Me: Uggga Bugga Ugga Da Da Uhhhhh
3. Clap When Someone You Like Walks in the Room
When I pick Clara up after a day of teaching, she smiles and so excitedly claps her hands that she accidentally hugs herself.
4. Get Happy about Your Own Naked Chunky Legs
When she’s down to a diaper for her bath, Clara pumps her legs and bites her lip, thrilled to be exposed.
5. Resist Shoes
6. Prefer Lima Beans to Ice Cream
7A. Cry When It Hurts
7B. Be Comforted by the Songs of Someone Who Loves You
8. Talk to Your Books
Clara: “Mmmm, Hmmmm, Ma Ma, Lyle, Lyle the Crocodile. You’re looking big and reptilian today.”
9. Play with Old Toys in New Ways
For instance, when you tire of the rattle, you can throw it six inches in front of yourself and play a fun game of one-man fetch.
10. Move Forward Bravely
From Anne Sexton’s poem “Courage”:
“It is in the small things we see it.
The child’s first step,
as awesome as an earthquake.”