Monthly Archives: August 2002


Your presence freshens everything, your laughter brings joy, and your touch carries electricity. I can never get enough of your love.

But I’m not the one you came to see, and your smile is only polite, and when our hands brushed you didn’t notice. I can never get enough of your love.

High School Sweetheart

Before Cora enters high school, I want to start taking her on dates. By the time a classmate first asks her out, I’ll have been dating her for years.

I doubt that she’ll think of our father/daughter outings as practice dates, but that’s how I’ll view them. I’m going to try my best to model the sorts of dates that I hope she has for herself, and to model the sorts of behavior I want her to expect from a gentleman. I want to find out what’s on her mind and get to know her better. I want to be charming. I want to get her used to the polite respect that she deserves in the hopes that she’ll come to expect it from others.

Sometimes the thought of letting Cora go off with some boy that I don’t know bothers me. But the best way of forestalling any disaster, besides threatening to put his teeth in his stomach, is to prepare Cora with the real thing, so that she can recognize a counterfeit. It raises the bar a notch for those boys when they have to talk to her and engage her interest, and can’t get away with just a cheeseburger and some necking. I mean, come on, dude! I could have a better time with my dad!

Someday her social calendar may be quite full, and it’ll be an effort to squeeze me into her schedule for a dinner together, or for a cup of coffee in the evening. I hope she makes the effort. And one day the roles may be reversed, and Cora will be breaking her dad out of the old folks home for an afternoon together. And she’ll want to know what’s on my mind, and she’ll try to get to know me better, and she’ll be charming, and she’ll give a silly old man the respect she wants him to get from others.

Ask My Children

Small children are pure observers, with no ideology or interest to color their perceptions. When we teach someone in a scholarly sense, it’s our words and the strength of our arguments that count. Our private actions may contradict our words, but our actions never enter the equation. When we raise children, they learn from our actions long before they understand the nuances of our rhetoric. Taking them to Sunday School once a week — or teaching them to say a bedtime prayer each night — doesn’t mean much if we aren’t living like Jesus the other six days.

This is a comfort and a conundrum. You’ll never be judged too harshly for words you didn’t mean if your actions show that you didn’t mean them, but you’ll also not be let off the hook if what you say and what you do are inconsistent.

Cora doesn’t like that

This is about Cora becoming a person. She was an object: the baby. Keep her clean and dry and be quiet so she’ll sleep. Now she has preferences, and sometimes she’ll surprise you.

So Much Mine

Tina?s away this weekend, on a camping trip with her Pioneer Girls troop. This means that from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon, Cora and I are on our own.

Because she?s an infant, I made all of Cora?s decisions for her today: from what she would eat to what she would wear to what games she would play. But something occurred to me as I was spending all this time with her: she may grow up to be very much like me, because, as she learns to make decisions for herself, it?s me that she?ll be learning decision-making from. Disregarding any outside influences, the process of parenting should grow Cora from someone who needs me to make every decision for her into someone who makes for herself all the same choices that I would have made for her.

Think about it: how will Cora learn to make decisions? By learning from me! And, of course, I?m not going to let her make decisions for herself until I think that her decision-making in a given area is trustworthy. So when, do you suppose, will I think that her decision-making is trustworthy? Probably when her decision in some situation is similar to what my decision for her would be; or, if her decision were different than mine would be, then I would think that her different decision was trustworthy only when her reasons for making that decision seem reasonable to me. Either way, good parenting says that I?m not going to relinquish control of an area of her life until I think that she?s making good decisions there for herself.

An example: when will I let her decide what flavor of baby food she wants to eat for dinner? At some point she?ll probably only want to eat what tastes good, without regard for nutrition. During this time, she may be asked what she wants for dinner, but believe me that I?ll override her decisions as often as required to ensure that she?s being properly nourished. I?ll consider my job in this area to be complete when she chooses to eat yucky-tasting vegetables as well as yummy ones, because that?s a diet that makes sense to me.

A song by The Story, called ?So Much Mine,? explores this same idea. The song begins with a typical parental lament of, ?Where?d you get that dress, and where?d you learn to walk like that?? The parent in the song can?t believe that the child who was once ?so much mine? could now have moved out after an argument, leaving her parents behind. The “so much mine” idea really resonates with me: so far we make all of Cora’s decisions for her, and she loves the arrangement. She’s quite happy to be my little girl.

During the course of the song, the mother comes to realize that her child?s fiery spirit resembles her own, conceding near the end of the song that, ?I know where you got that dress, and I know where you learned to walk like that.? Unfortunately, this realization comes too late to provide reconciliation.

I really like this song, and I sing Cora to sleep with it sometimes. It’s a way of reminding myself that she?s going to learn from me, so I?d better make a conscious effort to be worth emulating.