I have to tell you about a conversation I had with my aunt recently. It kind of changed my life.

So, you know by now that Delphine struggles to read and write. I don’t seem to able to stop harping on about it in this blog. Sorry. But there’s no drama in it really, no search for magical solutions. We just get on with it in our little homeschool world. Reading practice and writing practice. InterHigh. Trips to see Linda on a Saturday morning. One tiny, tiny step at a time.

But I can’t lie. It worries me. Plus Delphine hates it. I know for a fact that if Delph had the choice, she would NEVER read in her life. Why does she hate it so much? Cause it’s hard? Because I constantly shove books at her? Yes and… well, probably yes.

Still, I have to give it to her. She’s impressively stubborn and certainly not interested in what others think of her. Not even a smidgen. You know that moment when someone refuses to read out their mystery card in Cluedo? Delphine raises her eyebrows. Bad luck suckers. And I have to bow to her on that. That’s what happens when you pledge to the God of irreverence. You have to admire it in other people too. Doh! It’s like my own bad karma of irreverence.

What about the constant worry I feel then? That’s just annoying. I haven’t been able to get rid of it either. Despite myself, my worry has got so big it’s become a turd in the room, stinking away in the corner. I find myself caught between glaring at it and helplessly sniffing it out. Can’t clear it up.

My aunt Ela on the other hand is a really good cleaner. So much so that when we were kids we branded her obsessive compulsive about cleaning. To be honest, that rumour has only really died because we grew up and moved away. When you go back and visit her, you still realise that Ela’s house is mausoleum quality. Is she trying to dust the corners of her soul? Maybe. That doesn’t negate the fact that she found my turd. Trust the cleaner to follow the smell.

I called her up a few weeks ago. We talked for a while, chewed the fat. It was all good. She asked me how Delph was getting on with school.

I thought for a moment. ‘Well, she’s doing a lot of art projects.’ As I said it, I realised it. As difficult as InterHigh is at the moment, a lot of the homework has the option of visual creative expression. And Delph has been going down this route pretty enthusiastically so far.

‘She drew a series of chairs,’ I explained, ‘for saying the names of the colours in French.’

Silence on the other end of the phone. I could hear Ela vaping on her calumet and blowing out the steamy smoke. Then her voice came back. ‘Send it to me.’

I did. A few moments later, my phone pinged. I picked it up and opened the message. ‘Stop worrying about her reading and writing.’ the message read. ‘Send her to art school. This is where she belongs.’

I sat back. You mean you can forego the whole academic route and just go creative? That’s an actual thing? My head whipped back. Yes, of course that IS a thing! It was like Ela had just cleared away the brambles of a path in front of me. My mind had just been blown open. Delph can do things on her terms. She can have value and meaning and most of all, she can enjoy her work. And without any fan fare, my aunt went off to do some more cleaning.




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