Do you like your child?

I took Ikuni to her friend Miki’s Halloween costume party. Ikuni went as a dead girl. Dressed in off-white, she wore a lacy top and a pleated ankle-length skirt. Most of her black hair was twisted in an elaborate bun, but three long, curly strands hung on each side of her face. She had dark circles under her eyes and “bloody” strips of cloth on her wrists.

After dropping her off, I met my parents at a nearby restaurant and then browsed a local bookstore. Later, as I pulled into the driveway to pick Ikuni up, she came running toward me, her skirt dancing round her legs. She excitedly asked if I wanted to come in and hear a re-recording of a Malice Mizer song. I said, “Sure!”

When I entered the house, Miki’s mom was in the kitchen and we exchanged quick hellos. I followed Ikuni down the hall and was privileged to be welcomed by Miki into that very hallowed ground–the teenage bedroom.

I smiled as I crossed the threshold. There were piles of clothes everywhere, books stacked at odd angles on the dresser, and about a hundred j-rock pictures collaged on the walls and ceiling.

Taking a seat on the floor, I listened to the recording. Then Miki showed us some video clips, and we laughed at one in particular, where on the zany Japanese show, Utaban, the singer Gackt accepted a dare to kiss one of the hosts, but when he went to do it the host chickened out.

A bit later, as Ikuni and I left, I said goodbye to Miki’s parents. They were in the living room watching television and barely looked up. It was a little weird, actually. I know that Miki’s mom and dad don’t appreciate her interests. They don’t know what they’re missing.

Then, yesterday, while lurking on a friend’s online forum, I read this quote by John Holt:

We can sum up very quickly what people need to teach their own children. First of all, they have to like them, enjoy their company, their physical presence, their energy, foolishness, and passion. They have to enjoy all their talk and questions, and enjoy equally trying to answer those questions. They have to think of their children as friends, indeed very close friends, have to feel happier when they are near and miss them when they are away. They have to trust them as people, respect their fragile dignity, treat them with courtesy, take them seriously. They have to feel in their own hearts some of their children’s wonder, curiosity, and excitement about the world. But that is about all that parents need.

Do you like your child?
Image by Rubbermaid Products (cc cropped, watercolor, text added)


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