“Inspiration does exist, but it must find you working.” – Pablo Picasso
I reflect back to a moment when my daughter was 12 years old, and she was in the unenviable position of being the sole participant in what was to be a “group” project for her French class. They were to write a short skit in French, for the team members to read aloud in class. Her team consisted of only three kids, including herself. She was especially frustrated with the boy on her team because he made it very clear that he did not want to contribute. The other girl was willing, though not very familiar with the language. My daughter has a good ear for language, so she took it upon herself to take charge.
“I have so much to do by tomorrow. And all Herberto said was, “No” to everything I asked him to do. That’s not fair!”
She needed a few moments to catch her breath, then a mischievous smile formed as quickly as her solution took shape.
“Since I’m writing the script, he’ll have to read what I write. Hahaha.”
She dove right into the project without further complaint. Every time she typed his name in the script, she purposely misspelled it: “Scene deu: Hairy Bear Toe (waiter) enters….”
I tried to temper her plan, but she was determined to show him not to burden her with his laziness.
“I know, I’ll only misspell it on his copy!” She chuckled as she continued to weave her mischief into the script.
“He’s not going to know how to pronounce any of this!” she giggled, “But neither will I.”
The following day after school, I asked her how the play went. She smiled, “He never noticed the misspellings and the ‘group’ got an A.”
“You know what? Doing all this work actually helped me learn French more!”
She learned a lot through this, though I’m not sure she learned the life lesson I initially was trying to impart when I discouraged her sneakiness. Granted, her reach toward humor made the injustice of being saddled with a team project, not only bearable, but a creative canvass. Once I let go and just observed how she could transform this moment from victim to victor, I also relinquished to the simplicity of:
“If you obey all the rules, you will miss all the fun.” –Katherine Hepburn
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