Yeah, I’m a parent.
One of the best compliments I’ve ever received came from my Number One Road Dog Vince (Keith Pridemore, to any of you who’ve read Oogie Boogie Central), who told me, “Man, I don’t like kids in general, but I really dig hanging out with yours.”
What makes that better is that I’ve heard the same thing from a lot of people.
I never had a parenting strategy beyond the standard “I’ll never do THAT to my kids” we all vow during the heights of teenage angst. With my sons, the influence I wielded ended early thanks to the divorce and visitation. You can only exert so much control on alternate weekends. Still, both boys have turned out relatively well, and if I close my eyes while they’re talking, I can hear myself in their words, attitude and inflection.
I’ll leave it for posterity to determine whether my influence has been positive or not.
Lex is a different story. After a lengthy gap in my day-to-day parenting experience, I was confronted with another child, and this one was GASP! a girl.
Tremble, all, for the fate of a young woman consigned to my care.
From the time we brought her home from the hospital, I spoke to my daughter like I speak to everyone, although I did edit out most of the profanity that normally peppers my speech. I always had a captive audience, thanks in part to the unusual pitch of my voice, which seems to attract babies like a Zwieback buffet. The goo-goos and gah-gahs have their place, I’m sure, but intelligent conversation with a listener that can’t call “bullshit” has its moments as well.
I also believe it explains Lex’s off-the-chart verbal skills, but that’s just Daddy Pride talking.
But there’s a part of me that worries about her development and my contribution to it. How many four year-old Kevin Smith fans do you know? How many seven year-olds cry “Plagiarism!” and demand copyright credit? How many eight year-olds invite bestselling authors to a round of HALO and proceed to gleefully whip their ass. How many nine year-olds want to sit in on a poker game (not to play with the chips, but to critique your hole card management skills)?
And how many ten year-olds want to hang out with a bunch of authors at a writers’ convention?
Yep. That would be my little princess. On all counts.
I want her to know that life is filled with possibilities. I want her to take chances and push boundaries. I want her choices to be a product of her desires, not the limitations imposed by narrow-minded gender restrictions. I want her to see obstacles as opportunities, not conspiracies orchestrated by the faceless THEM that keeps everybody down.
If she plays with her dolls one minute and reaches for the XBox controller the next with equal enthusiasm, then I’ll consider myself fortunate.
I tell myself that her boldness will serve her well as an adult. I hope that her fearlessness won’t be confined to the bungee/trampoline ride on Pier 39. I pray that her exposure to the world will fire her imagination and expand her horizons.
I also wouldn’t mind if she chose a life of contemplative celibacy, but I’m not holding my breath.
Remind me to tell you about the young man who knocked on my door two weeks ago.
But Then Again, You’ll Have This . . .
* If you were at WHC this year, you probably understand this. If not, buy me a beer one day and I’ll explain it. Trust me; it’ll be worth the brew.