Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 12.34.19 AMMy daughter Casey likes that I’m a writer. She’s told me this quite often, and I always find it flattering. She thinks it’s cool that I have books, that I’ve appeared on TV, that I never wear shoes or a tie and am almost always there to pick her up at 3:15.

That said, it comes with complications. Casey fancies herself a writer, too, and she has tons of natural ability. Today, for example, she had to write an essay about her younger brother, Emmett. One of her lines was, “Having a little brother is a sunny day until it rains.”

I read that and beamed. I thought the sentence was truly brilliant. I’m not saying Casey is brilliant (braggart parents suck), but the sentiment and phrasing was pretty impressive for a 10-year old.

Wait. I’m babbling. Casey writes beautifully. However, in school her writing is often filled with red Xs. The teacher, understandably, wants more structure; wants her to follow tried patters and approaches; says her sentences need the requisite elements and staples. I get it, and I believe these things—especially at her age—are important. And yet, I can’t help but flash back to my youth, when I just wanted to be creative and expressive and explore the boundaries. I hated teachers telling me good vs bad when it came to the pen. These were my words, dammit, and I could use them as I wanted.

This, of course, didn’t get me so far.

And yet, it also did.