The imprecise art of writing and parenting

Years of Experience with Bows and Arrows

by Olav H. Hauge, translated by Robert Hedin and Robert Bly

What you are supposed to hit

is the bull’s eye, that black spot,

that precise spot, and the arrow

is supposed to stand there quivering!

But that’s not where the arrow goes.

You get closer to it, close and closer;

no, not close enough.

Then you have to go out and pick up all the arrows,

walk back, try it again.

That black spot is highly annoying

until you finally grasp

that where your arrow stands quivering

is also the center of something.

from The Dream We Carry, Copper Canyon Press, 2018. Shared with me by Holly Wren Spaulding.


One day, I was home with my son Morgan and who has spent the day either

– refusing to play

– playing with breakable objects

– playing with his toys in some “off-label” way.

Right now, I am watching him play with an old mop, a mound of dirt, a plastic baseball bat, and a bubble gun that has batteries (miracle!) but no bubbles.

A few years ago, I read that kids become more rigid in their thinking when they reach 5 or 6 years old.

You hand a 3-year-old a mop and they invent all sorts of games that have nothing to do with the mop’s form or function. A 6-year-old might invent a game, too, but it often has something to do with play around cleaning up or pretending the mop is a person.

When I read that tidbit back then, I had a 3-year-old and possibly another baby (that part of the memory is fuzzy) but I do have a sharp recollection of my reaction.

“Not MY kids! Right??! I mean, they’ll maintain their imaginative, flexible thinking NO MATTER WHAT I HAVE TO DO. My kids will remain flexible!”


That’s what they have in common—the way I write, and the way I mother, I mean.

The arrow gets close but then again, no, not close enough, and I have to go out and pick up all the arrows, walk back, try it again.




Have you missed “that black spot,” but pierced the center of something else lately? What was it? Hit reply and let me know.

– M

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