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