I used to be a prolific journal-keeper. In the past several years, although I do still keep a journal, I write in it much more sporadically.
But I've been missing private journal keeping. It's always been a soul-nourishing activity for me, and this summer I decided to try to get back to making it a regular habit. A few weeks ago I purchased a brand new notebook and I've been delighting in writing in it more often.
It hadn't dawned on me how closely my daughter was watching, both when I purchased the journal and as she began to see me tote it around each day. When I bought it, we had a conversation about what a journal is, and I more or less explained that it was a place where you could write about your thoughts and feelings and the things you do each day. She seemed intrigued.
Several days ago she began making casual comments about "her journal." Things like: "I stayed up till 2 in the morning writing in my journal!" (hmmm...where did she get that one, I wonder?) and "I need to remember what we did today so I can write it in my journal." Always after these comments, she would look somewhat self-conscious and add "I'm only teasing" or "I'm just kidding...I don't really have a journal," or sometimes "Maybe one day when I'm older and can write better I can keep a journal."
And then it dawned on me how foolish it was not to seize this lovely creative and reflective moment. Who cares that her letters are sometimes still tipsy and she sometimes writes them backwards? Who ever said that you have years of writing practice behind you to keep a journal? I remembered that in my own more creative years of journal-keeping, I would sketch, jot words I liked, paste pictures from magazines, and slide snipped quotes inside the pages. Couldn't the sweet girl begin to keep her own kind of journal?
So I asked her if she wanted one. I explained what I just said...how a journal could be a creative place for her, even if she didn't write much in it yet, though of course she could use it for writing too. I called it a "special notebook."
And when we went to the store this past weekend, we headed down the notebook aisle and stood in front of a vast array and she chose one. I found myself guiding her toward smaller notebooks (she liked that) but the first one or two I picked up and suggested she didn't take much interest in. Her eyes lit up when she saw a little notebook with a purple spiral and colorful dots on the cover. It even had a little cardboard pocket on the inside cover. "I like this one!" she said, and I knew right away that it was her first journal. I should have remembered how important it feels for me to choose my own notebook, and how certain notebooks for certain seasons of my life just "feel right."
So that's the one we got. And yesterday, she asked me to please write down the day and date so she could copy those words onto the first page of her journal. I suggested she put her name on the front inside flap. She did all that, and then spent half an hour happily drawing pictures with colored pencils inside her own special little notebook. She wants to keep her journal near mine.
What a lovely unexpected summer gift: my little girl has become a journal-keeper!