Steve and Emma

I could probably write a (not so) short story about my friend Steve; one of the most engagingly iconoclastic and quirky people I’ve ever met. He never fails to entertain. But one thing I’m getting a real kick out of lately is being a spectator to his relationship with has daughter, Emma, now a young lady of twelve.

Steve and Emma’s mother are amicably separated. Steve gets, and religiously exercises, access with Emma; but not in that perfunctory, duty-bound way that I see it done by lots of other non-custodial fathers.

Like many other parent/child duos, they actually do stuff together – from Saturday morning visits to the farmer’s market, to watching movies together, to concocting weird little vignettes to commit to video; what’s almost palpably different is an overt sense conspiracy between them – two people who are really in sync.

Steve doesn’t treat Emma in that contrived manner that casts the child as a faux adult, but he actively listens to her, solicits her opinions and engages her on matters that are of interest to her, without creating that  hideous child tyranny spectacle so common these days. He always gives her the space to be what she is – still a kid.

There’s plenty of room in their relationship for the decidedly goofy.  Recently, Steve capitulated in Emma’s suggestion they paint Steve’s truck – using leftover paint from a room they’d just finished painting – in lime green, no less.

Although it’s not a relationship dynamic per se, the thing I think I appreciate the most in my role as spectator is that Steve, despite obvious pride in his precocious and clever daughter, never engages is that droning, repetitive bragging that lots of parents, mindlessly adhering to the tenets of the self-esteem movement, feel compelled to bore everyone in earshot with.

Despite not being a parent myself, I’d have to say Steve’s approach to parenting sometimes makes me think I might have liked it had I been capable of doing it his way. Thank you both.

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