She’s a Daydreamer, That One

I don’t know what report cards look like today. They’re probably all digital and online. But in my day, they were typically a single sheet of folded card stock, manila-colored, about the size of a regular-sized Hallmark greeting card. 

And they were a Big Deal. 

On the front of the report card was your school’s name and address, and maybe the school year. Beneath all that was your name, handwritten in blue ink by someone with lovely cursive handwriting — clearly a woman. It was always a woman’s handwriting, with joy seeping out of every curl and loop.  

The whole thing looked very official, especially to a child who knew the contents of this document were going to determine how she spent her spare time for the next three months. 

I was naturally bright, and also well-behaved. An obedient child, compliant. But I considered the whole school thing absolute torture. All I wanted to do was write and draw and sit outside in the sun and ride my bike and play in the woods. 

To secure my freedom, I gave schoolwork just enough effort to make the grown-ups happy. 

To be fair, I was a borderline disappointment to those who saw So Much Potential in me. My parents tried paying me for grades at one point, but that didn’t work. And there was nothing to punish me for — I just wasn’t Meeting My Potential. And it showed in what the teachers always wrote in the “Comments” sections of my report cards, after they’d recorded my grades. 

She’s a daydreamer.”

“Michelle has such potential, if only she wasn’t daydreaming.”

“Michelle is very bright, but she’s always daydreaming.”

My parents would sit together and read my report card while I stood there quietly, waiting. 

My father was a creative himself, a musician and writer, but also highly intellectual and an over-achiever. He left high school, married my mother, and then ON PURPOSE went off to Officer Candidate School and flew off to Vietnam. The type of man who sees a goal and pursues it with ferocity. That was my father. He wanted me to be that way, too. 

My mother, on the other hand, was a quiet cheerleader who just wanted me to be happy, enjoy childhood, and do well enough to not cause trouble at home.  

I chose the In-Between. To do really well at the subjects I loved, and in the others just enough to keep the peace and have freedom. 

Freedom to daydream. To write and draw and sit outside in the sun and ride my bike and play in the woods. 

But that’s where Imagination is born. 

Here’s to The Daydreamers. 

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