Saturday, October 10, 2015

Daddy tries to know the unknown

I love hearing the Little Girl talk about her life.

Daddy tries to know the unknown


I love hearing the Little Girl talk about her life.

In sweet tangles of conversation that are sometimes difficult to follow, I listen to her observations, misperceptions, desires, complaints.

So much of the way she thinks is changing as she grows, and I am breathless to keep up.

What’s especially striking is how her head is filling up. Just a few years ago, her world was small and I knew pretty much what was inside her brain and how it got there. She was a tiny pond being fed by a single spring.

Nowadays, though, the Little Girl is a student, a reader, a TV watcher, a (supervised) Internet user, a peer among friends – in other words, a creature of the culture.

That single spring has been augmented by dozens of other streams, deepening the pond and overflowing its banks. How arrogant of me to think that I could know her wholly by knowing what flows into her brain.

Hard as it is to accept, I have no special knowledge of what my baby knows, and how she knows it. I’m a loving bystander, trying to direct and shape a life I’m powerless to direct and shape.

Oh, I can suggest and cajole and expose her to good and wonderful things. But the Little Girl is her own person.

And a father has to learn to live with that.


Inquirer Columnist
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About this blog
A New York City native, Lubrano has written for newspapers since 1980. He's the author of a book, "Limbo: Blue-collar roots, white-collar dreams," and was a commentator for National Public Radio for 16 years. His work has appeared in various national magazines and anthologies. He lives with his daughter in South Jersey, and has worked for the Inquirer since 1995. Reach Alfred at

Alfred Lubrano Inquirer Columnist
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