Kid Zen

My 12-year-old shoveled a path across our sizable lawn, ending at the cemetery’s fence, putting considerable effort into this project.

My teenager, arriving home from work, asked me, in her trademark language, What the hell?

The next morning, I stood on the porch, watching my girl walk through her path, leap the fence with her backpack, and then plunge through the snow on the cemetery side. She lifted her hand once and waved at me.

The girls are both teetering on the precipices of new ages — one into adolescence, the other leaving adolescence for adulthood. I loved that dogged determination of my daughter, shoveling snow through a field in the bitter cold. A few mornings later, doubtlessly wising up to avoid wet jeans all day at school, she opted to head down the road and take the unshoveled path. At the top of Spring Street, she waits for her friend, holding her sister’s insulated mug with hot chocolate.

This girl reminds me that the journey really is the thing, that parenting isn’t ever about a goal or an ending place. Innately, she knows this, while I’m still standing on the porch step, watching.

A scholar tries to learn something everyday; a student of Buddhism tries to unlearn something daily.

— Alan Watts



By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.


  1. I went out to snow blow my driveway. Instead I made a small race track for my little dog, a Yorkie Maltese mix. The snow was too deep for him to scale the walls so he ran around the track. I chased him. His feet got cold and he went inside. Most fun I’ve had in weeks. Hi Brett!

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