My daughter somehow found the crayon set I bought when I decided a few weeks ago that I’d draw the next Mona Lisa when I got around to it, right after I finished winning the world championships in darts and won the Nobel Prize in Medicine and also Darts. Seeing her fool around with magenta and denim with an infantile grin on her face, I thought, ”what the hell, why not—let’s see if the tyke has any talent rattling around in that walnut-sized brain of hers.” (I should note that at eighteen months, she has yet to produce anything except faeces and some vague gurgling that passes for language—truly unremarkable, given that at the same age I had already mastered French and jiujitsu.)

I must admit that I made a mistake in carrying her over to the pristine and elegant walls of my home, the architectural design of which is said to be the greatest achievement in the field since the Taj Mahal. I must further admit that it took me a few minutes to realize that my daughter’s inane scribblings were the product of drooling ignorance and underdeveloped limb coordination, not the possible burgeoning of a Neo-Abstract movement or even just the possibility of a dangerous-yet-exciting Schizophrenia Zone in the lower right. But fear not—as I write, she is safely returned into her bedroom, restrained in her customary Learning Chair where her usual programming has been substituted for a lecture series on composition and symmetry.

After burning the crayon set and calling in a private construction crew to bring in a replacement wall—for now I have bleached it to prevent the sight of it from damaging my psyche further, but until the very wall has been destroyed I shall not rest easy—I reflected on my and my daughter’s mistakes. Clearly I was at fault for having expectations—somewhere along the line I had forgotten that to shoulder the burden of greatness is the lot of men like me. More troubling was my daughter’s choice of subject—why had she been in the midst of scrawling two smiling figures holding hands that she had happily described as “Daddy and me” instead of musing over a more meaningful issue, such as the Riemann Hypothesis or the ultimate doom of mankind? Perhaps the answers to such questions are unknowable.

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