Word Prompt: Nurture | Story Prompt: from the book “The Imperfectionists” by Tom Rachman

Write It Out: Instruction Video

“Travel means effort and a night away from home. Bleak. And nothing is worse than obit interviews. He must never disclose to his subjects what he’s researching because they tend to become distressed. So he claims to be working on “a profile”. He draws out the moribund interviewee, confirms the facts he needs, then sits there, pretending to jot notes, stewing in guilt, remarking, “Extraordinary!” and “Did you really?” All the while, he knows how little will make it into print — decades of a person’s life condensed into a few paragraphs, with a final resting place at the bottom of page nine, between Puzzle-Wuzzle and World Weather.

At this disheartening thought, he sneaks out of the office to fetch his daughter. Pickle, who is eight, emerges from the school gate, satchel strap around her throat, arms flat at her sides, potbelly distended, glasses scanning nothing in particular, her untied shoelaces flailing with each step. “Antiques?” he asks, and she slips her hand into his, squeezing it in affirmation. To Via dei Coronari they amble hand in hand. He observes her from above, her tangled black hair, tiny ears, the thick lenses that bend and swell the cobble stones. She babbles softly and snorts with amusement. She is a wonderful nerd, and he hopes this won’t change. He’d be distressed if she were cool — it’d be as if his flesh and blood had grown up to be purple.

“Your aspect,” he says, “recalls that of a chimpanzee.”

She is humming softly and offers no response. After a minute, she says, “And you remind me of an orangutan.”

“I can’t argue with that. Nope, I cannot argue with that.””

***

“Nurture” is such a lovely word. It is authentic and real, not patronizing. Gentle. Encouraging, but not fake enthusiasm. It knows that an ability or gift already lies within the person (or the thing, like a plant or a pet), and needs only love, patience and understanding for it to blossom and grow. It’s what we aspire to provide to each of those we love, in spite of all our (and their) imperfections. We don’t always get it right, but when our best intent is there I hope we can be forgiven (and perhaps gently corrected) when we get it wrong.

Too strong and we might be smothering. Too weak and we might appear disinterested. Finding balance seems to be the key, once again, as we stumble our way through this complicated, messy life. Do you have any insights to contribute? Share your thoughts below!

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