Aug 20, 2007

Poetry Friday Challenge: Girl

I've been profoundly lax here of late with my posting, and I'm sorry. I daresay I can blame it all on a girl. My daughter.

The Oregon trip wasn't bad, as far as trips go. You remember, perhaps, a few posts back about the flight. Having my daughter home again has been all the things I recall from the past 13 years: a delight, a trauma, a head-spinning mix of emotions. Being a parent, if you don't know, can be damned hairy.

She's in the seventh grade now. Used to be, I had every answer to any question she wanted to put to me. Now it is I who struggle to keep up with her. I longed to raise her to be independent, emotionally strong and outgoing, all the things I wasn't as a child. I think I performed my task too well. She told her grandmother the other day that she was "an adult" and therefore could stay alone at the house as long as she wanted. Thirteen years old, and an adult. Thirteen going on thirty, no idea of what sort of sharp teeth and claws await her as an adult, and my warnings go unheeded.

I've been seeing the growing fork between us. Time was when I would look at her and see a sort of raw blur, the proverbial lump of clay, only slowly putting forth an idea of "Self," only slowly gathering the breath to shout "I am!" Time was I'd look at her and try to see myself in her, try to see her mother, her family, and try to divine the future in her clear, untroubled expression. Now, seemingly overnight my little girl is a young woman: she deals with her period once a month, she goes to school with her head up and a sort of eagerness that I never felt about school until the last semesters of my college life. She reads voraciously like her father, is quiet and introspective like her father, but she is not like me, she is more and more like Her. She is approaching Life with a quiet, introspective fierceness that I would love to take credit for; who am I kidding? I'd love to HAVE that fierceness I see in her, but I'm set in my ways.

It is she who is taking my seat at the potter's wheel. It is she, my little girl, who is shaping the vessel that is Herself, and I can only stand by and watch her take shape, can only say a few quiet words and hope she still hears me.

8 comments:

Scott from Oregon said...

You sure write some purty stuff when it means sumpin' to ya...

I often felt bad for my Pops when I realized that I was never to be his ideation of a son.

But in the end, we both have/had valid lives full of our own validity...

Jean said...

In the end, it is only us who can complete the true form of ourselves.
We know ourselves best.
Sounds like you just need to stand by to stabilize her if she begins to totter.

JustCallMeJo said...

I think this is utterly fabulous, proud Papa.
/jo

Maggie said...

I would venture to bet she hears you. Even if it means her brain files it away for later - maybe even years. But your her daddy and for a girl, that means something special. Also I would say you (and Her) have done a pretty darn great job for having a girl with so much sense of self at her age.

meno said...

Ah, the urge for independence. We want then to have it, and we fear what they will do with it.

Nice post.

Irrelephant said...

Why thankee much, Scott. I's even gots all mah teeth.

Jean, I hope you're right, because I really wonder what I'm doing some days. *g*

Thanks, Jo. It's tough being the 'first' in your peer group to be the parent; everyone is now looking to me for the answers that I had to figure out alone, for the most part. Not fair!

Maggie, I really hope so. Being one of two boys and having no female kin close by I have a tough time figuring out how she relates to me in that Daughter/Papa way. Even for a guy with a lot of contact with his feminine side it's still alien.

Meno, truthfully? As scared as I am at times over her being so independent I'd much rather her be the way she is now rather than the way I was when I was her age and older.

Cheesy said...

Ya done good daddy....

Irrelephant said...

Thank you, Cheesy sweet. I find that constant reminders that I'm not failing miserably as a parent almost always help be BELIEVE I'm not a failure as a parent. *s*