king of anything

For Christmas, nearly everyone in Katie’s world pitched in to buy her a piano keyboard. From the moment that she got it and began playing around with it, I started asking her if I could record her singing something. Anything. Because, ya know, I’m her mom and that’s what moms do. And each and every time, she very nicely told me to go scratch. Because she’s a tween and, well, that’s what they do. (The “very nicely” part being optional, obviously.) I finally stopped asking.

On Saturday, Katie said, “I learned a song. And I’d like you to record it and put it up on your blog.”

I moved so fast I nearly tripped over myself running to the living room to take up my position. She laughed at me. And then she began to play.

Keep drinkin’ coffee

Stare me down across the table

While I look outside

So many things I’d say if only I were able

But I just keep quiet

And count the cars that pass by

And the words – Oh my God, those words – sung in my girl’s beautiful, soulful (and soul-full) voice, were my daughters.

You’ve got opinions, man

We’re all entitled to ’em

But I never asked

So let me thank you for your time

And try to not waste any more of mine

Get out of here fast

One’s love, the other’s anthem.

I hate to break it to you, babe

But I’m not drowning

There’s no one here to save

Who cares if you disagree?

You are not me

Who made you king of anything?

So you dare tell me who to be

Who died and made you king of anything?

After she sang, I told her that I’d heard HER in the song. She looked at me quizzically. I tried to explain that she’d poured herself into the melody and the rhythm and the cadence of the words and even the subtle break in her voice as she pleaded with her listener to understand — it was all HER.

You sound so innocent

All full of good intent

You swear you know best

But you expect me to

Jump up on board with you

And ride off into your delusional sunset

I’m not the one who’s lost

With no direction

But you’ll never see

You’re so busy makin’ maps

With my name on them in all caps

You’ve got the talkin’ down

Just not the listening

I hung on every word that she sang. And I was, once again, in awe of my daughter. Because of all songs, she chose this one. This one that sounds like an intensely private plea and a very public anthem all at once.

And who cares if you disagree?

You are not me

Who made you king of anything?

So you dare tell me who to be

Who died and made you king of anything?

And then as she wrapped me in the final verse, I reveled in her strength, in her compassion, in her spirit. Blown away that THIS was the song that she had learned and asked me to share with you, here, in this place where we talk again and again about self-determination, about respect, about the danger of trying to force a cure on those who don’t want to be cured and the inhumanity of deciding who is broken and who is whole. About how even the most well-meaning  advocacy can have disastrous consequences when it doesn’t include the people for whom we are advocating, about creating a world in which no one has to hide who they are. Ever. About identity and strength and pride. About saying, “No,” and listening for, “No.” This was the song she chose.

All my life

I’ve tried

To make everybody happy while I

Just hurt

And hide

Waitin’ for someone to tell me it’s my turn

To decide.

Who cares if you disagree?

You are not me.

Who made you king of anything?

So you dare tell me who to be.

Who died and made you king of anything?

And so, with no further adieu, I give you my girl, singing King of Anything by Sara Bareilles.

My sweet girl, you are a beautiful soul that shines so brightly, lighting us all in your glow. I love you so much and I am so grateful to be your mom.

19 thoughts on “king of anything

  1. I love Sara Bareilles’ style. And Katie did such an amazing job with it. You’re right, she does have a soulful voice for such a young age. And that she chose that song does speak volumes about her.

    You have an amazing family. ❤ Thank Katie for sharing it with us.

  2. Pingback: so many things I’d say if only I were able | lovin' adoptin'

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