Deep Dark Secrets
“Mom, I want a diary.”
“William, you’re five years old, what do you want with a diary?” I asked.
“To write in.” William said. “I want a diary. The kind you can lock with a key.”
“Yeah, so Carrie can’t read it.” he said. He scowled. Motioned toward his sister’s room. “I don’t want her knowing all my deep dark secrets.”
William went on like this for weeks. He practiced copying words he saw, words he liked, on sheets of paper he found around the house. On post-it notes. On the lines of filler paper he looted from his sister’s binder. On sheets of immaculate, white printer paper from his dad’s office. None of it was quite what he wanted.
“I want a diary. That locks. And Carrie isn’t allowed to read it, only me.”
He finally got the diary yesterday; a Christmas gift from his Mimi. When he ripped away the paper, his face lit up. “Yeeees!” He punctuating his satisfaction with a punch of his tiny fist.
William promptly sequestered himself from the family’s festivities so as to pour out his deep, dark secrets onto the pages of his new journal. He obviously had strong ideas about what to write, but spelling the words, without help, was challenging.
“Carrie,” he called out, “How do you spell ‘afraid?'”
“A-f-r-a-i-d.” she said. Slowly. Patiently.
The kids went on in this way for a few minutes. At some point, William grew weary of the routine.
“Carrie, if I just tell you what to write, will you do it for me? You write faster than me, and you’re better at spelling. Okay? But I get to tell you what it is suppose to say.”
William dictated to his sister the deep, dark secret that he’d been so desperate to keep from her. She jotted down every word he said without modification or omission, and once his thoughts were out on paper, he took the diary back, bolted the pad lock, and tucked the key into his pocket to prevent her from snooping around at the thoughts she had transcribed into the book on his behalf.
It was a rainy drive home from Mimi’s house. William dosed off in his booster seat. We asked Carrie about the diary. Asked her what he had her write inside of it.
“His deep, dark secret,” she said.
“And what is the deep, dark secret?” we asked.
“It is the same as mine.”
Family can be maddening. It’s there, the temptation to try and lock them out of your story, but efforts to do so are futile. They are locked inside. They are doodling on our hearts. Jotting little notes all over our souls. They can’t be locked out of the story, for they are the authors.