Let me show you it.*
Parenting is a strange business indeed. When I found out that my first wife was pregnant a major part of my brain ran away, gibbering in terror. I had no idea how to be a parent! Other people's kids are annoying, what was going to keep MINE from being annoying? Snotty noses. Whining. Kicking the back of airplane seats. I really wasn't prepared in any sort of way: emotionally, physically, financially. But, the choice wasn't mine anymore. She was en route, and wasn't going to be stopped.
One of the main reasons I'd held off being a parent up to that point was that I was terrified that she'd grow up like I did, which is to say introverted, terrified, and ill-prepared to live in a world that was going to spend a lot of it's time showing her just how much It didn't care. Granted my mother had a lot to do with the warp of my woof. Having miscarried right before me I was, well, "sheltered" shall we say? If I breathed funny I was at the ER. I wasn't allowed human contact without having to wear protective clothing until I was twelve. I couldn't wear makeup or paint my nails until I was twenty. It was a tough life, and I grew up scared and shy and probably a little neurotic in a small, culture-free backward-arse town. Catholic education furthered that, as did a Baptist college. I was doomed from the get go.
So naturally when parenthood loomed, I was sickened by the thought that my daughter would have to live That Life. I was certain that with her mother out of the picture by age two and my daughter not being exposed to that (questionable) other experience set she'd not have much other choice than to grow up like me. I tried my best to get ready to try and help her through a life filled with fear and confusion. As she grew up, though, that stuff never arrived quite like I thought it would. Well, not entirely so.
My daughter, you see, is in a Talent Show at her school today. My shy, fast-and-quiet talking, book-reading, Naruto-loving** thirteen year-old introvert is in a Talent Show today.
Performing in front of the whole (sizeable) school.
And singing. ("Singing In The Rain," if you're curious.)
Oh. Mai. Gawd. My child is doing this. My child is going to be up there doing something that I couldn't even consider doing until I was well into my late twenties, and even then it took a ton of makeup and a disguise*** to make me comfortable enough to do so. She's going to dance and sing her little heart out, and while I don't have huge hopes that she's going to come home with a giant gold loving cup in her arms I'm still astounded beyond words that she's DOING IT of her own accord. I didn't press her to dance and sing. I didn't know she was even IN the thing until last week. (She's so quiet it'd take a bone sticking out of her leg and arterial bleeding for her to mention to me that she might need some help.)
She's her own girl, surely enough. She's inherited more than a few of her father's traits, both genetic and developmentally. She's quiet and shy, and a voracious reader. She's got my nose, my eyes and that big, open curl that my hair gets when it's long but as sure as there'll be another day to survive she's gone off in her own directions, all my parenting efforts be damned. She's more secure in her skin than I ever dreamed of being at that age, she travels like a seasoned veteran (she's going to Dallas this weekend for a chorale expo with her class and she's telling ME when to be up Friday morning) and she's got a surprisingly large circle of friends in school.
The acorn is falling a lot farther from the oak's trunk than I thought it would, and it's one of the greatest joys I've known.
* Actually I can't show you my talent, since the only talent I seem to possess is the ability to lick my own eyebrows, and I don't have a video camera.
** Anime, don't ask me to explain any more because I can't.
*** (All dressed up for a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.)