Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I'm here in the house with my beauties!

Agnese would punch me if she knew I was calling her a "beauty." Yes, Agnese punches me sometimes, or pulls my socks off if my feet are up in the chair. It's all teasing, and then I tell her (teasingly, in a excessively deep and slightly britishified voice) "You are not being respectful to your faaaather" and she laughs and goes away and hides my socks.

I kid with them a lot, but they know my "real serious voice," and they are very respectful if I take on a truly serious demeanor. But as much as possible, our home is a cheerful, happy, and humorous place.

Agnese is not very talkative. She is simple in her manners, her requests, and her goodnight hugs. It is difficult for me to compliment her on anything, and if I tell her that she is beautiful, she is ready to have a wrestling match.

But Agnese is beautiful. When she loves something, she really loves it. She loves the outdoors, and drawing, and horses and reading (like crazy) and "doing fun things" (which we never do enough of). I tease her and say, "I'm so sorry that you've had such a boring childhood," and she'll immediately respond, "No I haven't!" But then maybe she'll say, "I wish we had a bigger yard"--and I know that that is really true.

Agnese will be 13 in December. I have no idea what a 13 year old girl is like on the inside. Especially this one. She is a free spirit. I love that! And I love her spunkiness, and that she doesn't fall for an "easy line," but I sometimes feel like I don't know how to show love for her. I love her so much and I hope that she knows. I think she really loves me a lot.

Perhaps I feel as if we sometimes don't communicate because Agnese has a certain reserve, quietness, even shyness about her, while I am naturally ebullient, affectionate, verbal and expressive. That is my personality. If I suddenly pretended reserve toward her, or if I stopped teasing her, I think she might feel that something was wrong. Still, I need to approach her with more of an "internal intensity" of openness, that allows her to say what she wants (because sometimes she will begin talking about something, or asking questions with great interest). Then I must listen to her, let her aspire, and gently indicate where the boundaries are. I'd like to think that this is the general atmosphere that we cultivate in our home.

That is one aspect of being her father. Another, however, is to make sure she has secure ground as she grows more and more toward society and toward maturity as a young woman. She will be told by many that she is beautiful, and she needs a standard by which to measure those statements; she needs to know from experience what it means to be perceived as a beautiful person–to have the precious person that she is looked upon with eyes of true love. Those eyes have been given to me, since the beginning of her life, so that I can help her to grow into a person who is aware of those who truly love her, so that she will be able to distinguish a loving gaze from one that is possessive, manipulative, corrupting or violent.

That means that, regardless of her protests, she needs to hear from me that she is beautiful and she needs me to have confidence in her.