February 24, 2006
On raising a cyborg princess
It isn't hard being Schuyler's parent.
She's independent, but she's respectful of us and others. She's non-verbal, but she communicates pretty clearly, and lately I swear her speech has become slightly more recognizable. She's rarely frustrating, and never loses her temper. And I find that around her, we are the same way. Schuyler is, in every way that is realistically possible, growing up to be exactly the little girl we want her to be.
Julie and I aren't perfect parents, not even close. We make mistakes, lots of them. And honestly, we're not always that good to each other as spouses. But something about the way we work together with Schuyler, and the way we interact with her individually, has worked out exactly right. I don't always see how well or poorly I do as a father, but tonight, I can see things more clearly than usual. I can see that Julie and I do okay.
We talk a lot, in probably an obnoxious way, about raising Schuyler without physically punishing her, ever. And I know not everyone agrees with that, and that's cool. I get on my high horse about corporal punishment because I think the idea of hurting a child is loathsome. I am never more of a pacifist than when it comes to children.
But here's a little confession. Another reason it's easy for us to refrain from hitting Schuyler is that Schuyler never takes us to that place. As judgmental as I can be about this topic, I must confess that I don't get tempted by the dark side very often, if ever.
We're a weird little family, and maybe not like yours. Actually, I can guarantee we're not like yours. A lot of people look at us and wonder how we function at all. I wonder the same thing myself sometimes.
The answer is Schuyler. She does her thing with a happy heart, despite her monster, and she makes the rest of us better people for knowing her. If I'm a good father, it's only because Schuyler makes me one. Because of that simple and undeniable fact, I try to be careful about judging other parents and how they do what they do. They're at a disadvantage, as far as I'm concerned. They don't have a Schuyler.
As for Julie, I'm trying to convince her to contribute to this blog. She's resistant to the idea; she remembers what a bunch of weirdos you people are, after all. I'll keep working on her, though.