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Finally feeling the emotions that come from my child graduating high school.  I cried this morning, not so much for her success, not so much out of sadness, not really understanding why, and absolutely knowing why.  She represents the newness in our culture.  She represents the progress in our sophistication.  She represents the persistent effort our family and ancestors have evolved to be.  She was never hoping to graduate, like my generation.  She appeared to be learning in ways rooted in her design.  She rarely seemed to feel obligated to learn.  I never felt she was a few decisions away from a life of delinquency.  And yet she had a father who had to learn how to parent like she was capable of doing anything. 

I cried because I didn't know how to teach her to believe in herself.

This is where I find our New Mexican culture, trying to develop a belief in ourselves.  Unknowing and yet learning how to believe in itself, she is a bloom from this, she is doing it.  I had to set aside all the toxic traditions that kept me alive.  The yelling, hitting, drinking, shortcuts, ambivalence, dogma, and toxic obedience.  She inspired me to trust in her.  She gave me every reason to have a little more patience.  She taught me to believe in me, as a father.  She let me fail.  She didn't let me fail.  She is moody like me, temperatures changing in moments, stubborn to the point of spite, and also expressing emotions as fragile as a snowflake.  She gave me fear that lured my selflessness out in ways I'd never experienced. 

Watching her grow was my lesson in belief.  She showed me that believing in her wasn't up to me.  She didn't need my permission to believe.  She taught me how to feel someone else's, the other's, worry without having any role in dealing with it.  For every time she hesitated, I felt inspired to show her how not to.  For each hasty attempt at some reckless response, she invoked in me a call to patience.  She still leaves her room a mess and each morning when I'm about to leave mine unkept, I pause, I lament, and I take the time to put things right, knowing I am asking her to endure "each thing has its place".  Not doing this mindful act will feed the habit of neglect.  She teaches me to feed my habit of care, diligence, and focus.  She is my exam!

Her beauty is not my success, but the success of every interaction, every lonely encounter polishing her perceptions, and every courageous exercise in believing she is greatness.  Then I accept that she will also be taught to doubt, and this scares me.  And then I trust how doubt might be the most important ingredient.  Without doubt belief does not have its beautiful nemesis.

The milestone is not a high school graduation, rather a realization that "wanting the best for her", has likely been the subtle wisdoms for how I learned to improve on my perception of me.  My tassel, as a father, is believing in me, not selfishly, but with the necessary application of knowledge and fearlessness, that will help me continue to be an example of refinement.  My daughter is not on a trajectory for grandiosity, but an extension of progress, sameness, and flavor.  And in that same thought I am full of shit, because I cannot know who my daughter fully is, nor can understand where she is going. It is what I hope for me.

Traditions that Misbehave - Part 2

As a forming adolescent, I built up my identity through a process, taking my cultural loyalty, bathing it in popular trends, and measuring...