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The J Spotter

Personal insights from the J Spot author J. Angelo Racoma
( this site has moved to http://jangelo.racoma.net )

The J Spotter » Daughter Dearest

Daughter Dearest

This is for all the dads out there. The article was published on Page 64 of the 6 September 2004 issue of TIME Magazine (Asian Edition). My daughter is now one year and three months old, by the way. I'm enjoying every moment of it, somehow dreading and anxious, yet excited of that time when she grows up. -J. Angelo Racoma

Daughter Dearest

The little one adores you now, Dad, but brace yourself for the next chapter
www.TIME.com: Daughter Dearest -- September 6, 2004


E S S A Y
By GARRISON KEILLOR

My sandy-haired, gap-toothed 6-year-old daughter got a pair of cleated black shoes and shin guards so that she could attend soccer camp this month, which she wants to do because her pal Charlie Hooley is going, and that is how the twig is bent around here. The dad has little to say about it. Fate is everything. Thanks to a dog that jumped on her when she was 3, she is terrified of dogs, and thus are we spared the curse of dog ownership.

Almost every day my little girl climbs into her old man's lap and puts her little arms around his neck and lays her head against his chest and melts his heart like cheese under the broiler. She comes home from soccer and bursts into the house and cries "Daddy!" and runs and clasps his knees for perhaps four seconds, or three, and this is the Hallelujah Chorus and the Water Lilies at Giverny of parenthood. And sometimes she says, "I love you so much." This is so indescribably lovely that the old man feels dread in his heart: When will this Golden Age end, and what comes after it?

A little girl could be given a pony ride by her aunt Kay, and the virus of horsewomanship enters her blood, and thereafter, every Saturday morning for the next 12 years, I must drive her to Foxcroft Stables and watch Emmett, the chain-smoking, bourbon-soaked stableman, help my child up onto Crimson Blaze, who gallops away, leaping over hedges and fences, and after 15 minutes, I need a powerful tranquilizer, the kind they'd administer to a horse. Or a little girl could pick up a hockey stick and sense its potential for violence, and thus 10 years later, I have a 6-ft., 180-lb. defensewoman under my roof who loves to bang into people and knock their molars loose. My daughter is no shrinking violet. The other day I saw the little darling try to throttle a 6-year-old boy. She threw him down and was about to kick him in the pancreas. I called her name from the kitchen window, and she smiled a cherubic smile and poked him with her toe, just so he'd know what was on her mind. The old man shudders to see this.

My little girl is not into Sharing. She is a zealous guardian of her vast inventory of toys and games, her collection of more than 14,000 stuffed animals, even her handcrafted-from-natural-material playthings, given to her by liberals, which of course she never plays with. When another child ventures onto her turf and shows an interest in, say, one tiny stuffed llama made by Peruvian peasants from organic wool, the darling snatches it away, and her parents have to browbeat her into civility. The old man worries about this. I can visualize her as a selfish, overbearing snot — visions of the Bush daughter in the limo, her tongue stuck out — a royal pain in the ass. I brood about this.

A 6-year-old can be managed rather well. My little girl, thanks to her vigilant mother, does not watch television (except for approved videos) or eat fast food (except when with her aunt) or drink soda pop (ditto) or use foul language. She wears clean clothes and is fed fresh fruit and vegetables and that sort of thing. She is taken to kiddie concerts of classical music and to children's theater. At bedtime, with a little prompting, she bows her head and prays for people. Her teeth are clean and bright. Here I am, an old Democrat who's 150% in favor of public education, so what did I do with my own child? Sent her to a private Christian school, of course. Call me a hypocrite. We looked at a public school and decided to send her to a place where Miss Clavel is still in charge and children proceed in quiet lines into the building covered with vines, and of course, my daughter loves it there. Like most other kids, she is fond of order and rules and schedules. It's just like my old Sunnyvale School, a quiet pond of books and pen and paper. But a parent stands on a precipice. Adolescence looms ahead, which nowadays can begin at around the age of 8. Drug dealers lurk in the alley; nihilist rock 'n' roll wafts up from the storm sewer; the culture of covetousness is everywhere.

It is an act of optimism to bring a child into the world. Of course, lust enters into it too, and ignorance and sometimes mixed drinks, but a parent is, ex officio, a believer in the fundamental goodness of life. In a world of superstition, cruelty and despair, there is also friendship, fresh sweet corn, theater, the North Shore of Lake Superior, so many delightful things that tip the balance. Is this not so? The parent prays that it is so. I hear my daughter in the yard, laughing. She is on a swing, swinging so high that her head hits the leaves of the apple tree, and the weightless moment at the height of the backswing is what makes her laugh out loud. That moment when joy and terror meet. A religious moment. I want to go out and tell her to be careful, and I don't. Exuberance! Exuberance! The joy of life. For that, you need independence.

(c) Garrison Keillor
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thanks for posting this time essay... i can totally relate.

hey, are you interested in being featured in YOU Blog Addict? check out the latest blog addict at http://you.inq7.net/gear/09282004/tec5-1.htm

cheers!

Posted by Blogger joey on Friday, October 01, 2004 4:34:00 PM  



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