She says, "Can I have one of my pens, like yours?"
She means one of her fountain pens. Last summer I bought her a set of disposable ones in a rainbow of colors.
We're at Mikey's for the weekly family dinner. I keep a stack of stuff on the credenza at home, and bring it along every week. A couple of Josie's notebooks, her fountain pens, a box full of crayons and paint sticks. A deck of cards with family table games. (Tonight there's also a stack of circulars from the Sunday paper so that Josie can do a little Christmas shopping for her Mom -- Lynn will take her out to the stores on Saturday).
I ask her which color pen she wants and she picks the blue one. I hand her that, and a notebook. She writes,
Up on the House top!
Up on the House top Rain dear pas
Out jups goodol Santa
down thru the chipny with loss of
Then she stops and sings it to us before she goes on. She knows several verses by heart.
She practices writing in cursive, although she's not supposed to do that yet, in first grade. Her Mom wants her to do some of her homework, but for all of the writing implements that we have with us, we don't have a #2 pencil, and that's the only thing allowed for homework. She'll have to wait until she gets home. I make a mental note to add a couple of pencils to the box.
Later, after we finish eating, she plays games on her Mom's phone. She sends Queenie a text. She tell us the story of a dream she had last night in which she and her (imaginary) big brother were nearly electrocuted by an alien monster. She draws a picture of the monster to show us his huge long creepy hands with lightning coming out of the fingers. It's hard to tell how much she is remembering and how much she is making up on the spot.
We adults live in a linear world in which we grew up with pen and paper and printed books and now wait impatiently (eagerly or with trepidation), wondering when digital is going to replace all of that. As if the flow is all one way and inevitable. But Josie lives in the world of now. In her world, people use fountain pens to write for recreation. They use phones to talk and text and email. They gather for family dinners and talk about their dreams and desires. Printed books and digital books are different experiences that nestle comfortably alongside each other. Live theater is as thrilling as a 3-D movie. Sometimes you sing and dance and sometimes you listen to your iPod.
Josie teaches me to live in the land of Now. To be grateful for the ways that I can reach out electronically without giving up nestling in front of the fire with a hardcover novel. When I read the debates between Kindle lovers and the devotees of printed books, I think of Josie and think that we are being very foolish.
The restaurant starts to empty and we softly sing Christmas carols to each other as if it's the most natural thing in the world.