My mom drove me crazy when I was a kid. An author and children’s literacy expert, she was hellbent on preparing me to be a good writer. She read and corrected everything I wrote – challenging me to think harder, express more and expand my vocabulary. I can still feel what it was like to have her hover over me at the dining room table, gently pointing out ways I could make a sentence stronger or urging me to replace my “mashed potato words” – the ones that were bland, boring, and flavorless {I distinctly recall the word “nice” being a pet-peeve for her}.

Oh, man. I hated it. But I’m so grateful for it now.

My dad recently asked me if I could pinpoint the first time I knew I was a good writer. It was in sixth grade, when my teacher chided me for handing in a report on pandas that, she insisted, I couldn’t have possibly written all by myself. It was all at once frustrating and invigorating; her misplaced scolding informed me that I was a good writer. Too good for her classroom, apparently.

And to this day, no skill has served me more than writing. I can write a heartfelt letter, a compelling press release, an engaging radio ad, an impromptu lullaby, a touching thank you note, a kick-ass resume, a succinct email, an inspiring speech, a thoughtful blog post. Words give me wings and I want my own kids to know their power, too.

I had a full-circle moment on Monday, as I sat next to Ryder at the kitchen table while he did his third grade homework – writing a story about his summer. I found myself swelling with pride as I watched him choose his words carefully and ask about punctuation {“do I need that dot with a tail here?”}. My hovering over him – just as my mom did over me – is starting to pay off.

He hates it as much as I did. But I know that every grunt and groan and sigh from him is a sign he’s growing wings.