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Dear Diary, I have a daughter with whom you may be acquainted

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My oldest daughter is almost 12. She just began keeping a journal.

I had a journal from ages 14-24. It was a three-ring binder filled with hundreds of pages of notebook paper, each covered in blue or black ink scrawl and doodle-littered margins.

Ten years of angst, rants, theories, dreadful poetry, and dreams crumbled into ashes one afternoon when I spontaneously decided to burn the diary in my parents’ fireplace. I fed pages to flames with no regret and with a lot of satisfaction.

There was a brief pause to consider how I was making the job of my future biographers much more difficult. Too bad. I proceeded, slightly less narcissistic than 30 seconds before.

I was 24 years old when I played Fahrenheit 451 and had just finished reading all the entries for the last time. It struck me I didn’t need to see the words on paper to remember who I liked my freshman year of high school until I found out another guy liked me, so then I liked him instead because he liked me, so, like, like, and so, and gaw! my mom! and maybe we’ll go to the Cotton Ball together?

I didn’t need to be reminded how my heart was broken one dewy autumn morning on the school’s lawn during a bomb scare evacuation. The timing was poetic, I mused at age 15. My school wasn’t obliterated, but my heart was. In honor of being dumped, I penned a poem which I easily remember:

The scarlet glowing candle,
allures me with its flame.
An unseen force pours tears on it,
leaving smoke that spells your name.

On and on, pages bore witness to teenage and young-twentysomething life. Everything was magnified during those years. Setbacks were cruel, triumphs were exhilarating.

My daughter’s journal is a yellow spiral notebook with Keep Out warnings written on the cover. She writes when she sits on the piano bench, when she’s in the car, when her door slams. I’m a mom. I can see through 1970’s era suburban bedroom door.

I will keep out of it, I promise. Her privacy will be honored.

It won’t stop me from wondering if she’ll try to rhyme “mysterious kiss” with “jasmine mist”.

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  • comment avatar kagey April 9, 2009

    Oh, I probably ought to burn mine, too. I have journals from 8th grade on. Even today I journal, but it doesn’t drip with quite so much angst! (I do use it to vent, though, some things don’t change!)

    I think a journal is healthy for a kid. I wonder if any of mine (ages 1-5) will start one someday?

  • comment avatar amy April 9, 2009

    : ) You’ve always been so intrepid in your willingness to leave the past behind, I didn’t know you’d burned your journals. And, come on, the bomb scare break up continues to be a good story.

  • comment avatar Megan April 9, 2009

    I didn’t burn mine, but I did rip it to shreds. I’ve kept some form of journal since about 14 also. The one I had from 14-21 is gone like the wind.

    And good riddance. 🙂

  • comment avatar Beth - Total Mom Haircut April 9, 2009

    When I worked in a Montessori school one aspect of the program was that the students were to keep journals that the teachers then read and responded to (wrote notes in the margins). I always thought it was SO WEIRD and I was glad it was not part of my job description.

  • comment avatar JoAnn, The Casual Perfectionist April 9, 2009

    I kept a journal…and I’ve kept it! Last year (or was it the year before? Time flies…) for NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), I dissected it.

    It was so much fun to look back!

    I hope my daughter keeps a journal. Writing always helped me clear my head. I hope she finds the same solace in the pages.

  • comment avatar Terra April 10, 2009

    Oh the diary, I didn’t do it but I fancied myself a poet and kept paper after paper with poetry of those kisses and such. I still have them, I laugh at them – maybe someday I will do something with them