Esther is proud of herself. I am proud of Esther.
She wrote a poem for her school's annual Memorial Day poetry contest and it was chosen as the winner.
It's a good poem. And, embarrassingly, I didn't have a whole lot of confidence in it, or her.
In a strangely Tiger -Momesque moment, I even warned her before she handed it in not to get her hopes up too high. I told her that if she really wanted to win the contest, if she had truly cared about winning it, she should have given it a bit more time and effort, and most of all, she should have told me about it sooner than 8:30 p.m. the night before it was due, so I could have encouraged her to do her best. "No worries," I said, "there will be other poetry contests at school." Better luck next time.
I obviously know nothing about the creative process and have no eye for talent or quality. Or at least that eye goes blind when it's gazing upon my offspring.
She won. She won. And it’s a lovely poem. Heartfelt, innocent, full of naive hope, about the American flag. "Our Flag of Freedom" was the theme of the contest.
Our flag of freedom.
I stand tall above you all
giving you freedom
giving you strength and hope
giving you a name
I am red white and blue
I have stars and stripes too
I billow in the wind
Soldiers have fought wars for what I represent
And I will always be here
blowing in the wind
strong and true
here with you
At first I thought it was odd, a girl who just got back from living two years in France would have much to say about the American flag. It's not like she has been pledging allegiance to it every day for the past two years.
But then it occurred to me that this distancing from her country might exactly be why the things she said about her flag resonated with the judges.
She told me the opening lines, "I stand tall above you all, giving you freedom, giving you strength and hope, giving you a name," came to her as she was falling asleep. She got up and turned on the light so she could
Living as a foreigner for two years has given her a unique perspective. In the times, they came often, when she was in distress, upset, homesick, and it was so very clear to her she was not, nor ever would she be, home, it was America that soothed her, that called to her, that gave her a name.