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Representing Our Daughters - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Representing Our Daughters
This is interesting. Kim and I periodically write stories about Skylar's insights. I wonder, sometimes, whether we err on the side of over-representing her. But once one has created a character, inertia tends to have its way. Anyway, I got a random e-mail, not exactly spam but also clearly not to any "me" I know, from someone who also represents his daughter:
One rainy afternoon I was driving along one of the main streets of town, taking those extra precautions necessary when the roads are wet and slick.

Suddenly, my daughter, Aspen, spoke up from her relaxed position in her seat. "Dad, I'm thinking of something."

This announcement usually meant she had been pondering some fact for a while, and was now ready to expound all that her six-year-old mind had discovered. I was eager to hear.

"What are you thinking?" I asked. "The rain! ;" she began, "is like sin, and the windshield wipers are like God wiping our sins away."

After the chill bumps raced up my arms I was able to respond. "That's really good, Aspen."  Then my curiosity broke in. How far would this little girl take this revelation? So I asked... "Do you notice how the rain keeps on coming? What does that tell you?"  Aspen didn't hesitate one moment with her answer:

"We keep on sinning, and God just keeps on forgiving us."

I will always remember this whenever I turn my wipers on.  When forwarding this message, you will probably not send it to some on your address list because you're not sure how they would feel about receiving it or what they will think of you for sending it to them.

Sad isn't it, how living in today's world has caused us to be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us?
I'm not going to be forwarding this message to anyone on my address list. Still, I think it's worth thinking about. See, I can imagine Skylar saying something along these lines. She is given to the profound insight. And she talks about God a good deal. Her reflections certainly take a more heterodox tack, but the underlying "profundity of the child" that Kim and I discern in them is structured similarly to the sort that this Christian man discerns in his daughter.

I selected the past participle "structured" just now because I'm not sure who is doing the bulk of the structuring. Are we merely slotting our children into narratives that are like a foreign country to them? Or does their desire to bridge the gap between themselves and the adult world impel them to say and do things amenable to our narrativization. The will to represent demands closer scrutiny, not least because it goes hand in hand with the imposition of limitations on the will of the represented.
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art_thirst From: art_thirst Date: May 1st, 2005 01:46 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Because of her parents don't you think your daughter responds to life in the ways she does? I don't think many children would ask such questions without having recognized something in their environments that would allow such questions. I'm sure that wasn't clear but, you know, mostly children are just told things to believe. If anything, they are given thin reasons for beliefs to accept. But, most children are not introspective unless, maybe, parents or guardians are that way and it rubs off on the kids. Anyway, even if I didn't make myself clear, I appreciate what you're saying.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: May 1st, 2005 02:33 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I understand what you're saying. Environment is obviously a factor. I just want to know whether we're doing a disservice to her by helping her to see so much.
art_thirst From: art_thirst Date: May 1st, 2005 05:26 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
You'll find that out as she gets a bit older. You know, the teenage years are the ones where she'll be fighting for independence from her parents. We all go through it.
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