Father's Privilege

Nothing funny or legal or dramatic to see here. Mushy stuff. Move along.

One cool October day in Seoul in 2003 we met Abby. I held her, and was cautioned — sagely — to stop jostling her immediately after she had eaten.

She was tiny.

Abby Hat

A couple of days later we carried her from the agency's office back to the hotel. We rode the eerily clean and quiet subway as she snuggled against me in a carrier, under the enigmatic, not-entirely-disaproving, not-entirely-unreasonably-concerned expressions of South Koreans watching us.

Today she's ten. She's fearless, and frequently stubborn, and sweet, and sometimes profane, and surprisingly thoughtful, and entirely dangerous.

Abby Enigmatic

I think she can achieve anything she wants. God help us all.

I'm thinking of her quite a lot today, on a terrible day in America, and I'm glad I'm going home to her. I was quite unprepared for how helplessly and powerfully I would love these children.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

Comments

  1. Andy (not Andy) says

    As I write this, I'm in the house with my own four children. I understand perfectly.

    She's a beautiful little girl. Take good care of her, Ken.

  2. says

    (((Ken)))

    We all feeling helpless and sad and, many of us, scared.

    Love gives a goal to work towards, and hope that things do get better.

  3. Wick says

    As an adoptive parent, I can't even begin to explain how much I love my son. I'm glad I'm home with him now.

  4. perlhaqr says

    I think she can achieve anything she wants. God help us all.

    Well, let's hope she opts for the "kittens" end of the scale, rather than "dragons". ;)

  5. says

    Maybe it's because I'm a dad x3, but pictures of cute babies always make me smile.

    You always wonder where you would be be but for your children. What risks would you take? What lifestyle would you lead? What would you be doing if not checking homework, making dinner, wiping noses, running bathwater, etc.? Fun but odd hypotheticals.

    As the parent of an adopted child, you made the conscious choice to be a dad. I, like many others, simply "found out" I was a parent-to-be… and I slammed a few drinks immediately once notified. Still, neither of us knew what we had in store for us, or could appreciate the consequences of our actions. We do it all for them.

    It's days like today that I wonder what kind of world we've brought them into. But, of course, I'm not the first father to wonder that.

  6. That Anonymous Coward says

    @perlhaqr – there is of course something to be said for the middle of the scale, fire breathing kittens are awesome. And they keep ponies away.

  7. says

    I don't have kids, and don't have much to add, but I just wanted to post this…

    I recently finished a project on behalf of a local private school's cross country track team. It turns out that the school's cross country coach (a great guy, btw) ran the marathon today and had crossed the finish line moments after the blast. Fortunately, he and his wife and friend — who were cheering him on near the finish line — were not injured in the blast.

    In addition to the grief over the dead and injured, I feel a sense of fear. Fear of the scapegoating and rush to judgment already happening and fear of the "solutions" that will inevitably come.

    I'm not trying to be deep or philosophical and I feel like a new age sap for even expressing this thought, but stuff like this happens and it makes me realize that this world isn't as big as we'd like to believe.

  8. Lucy says

    Children's innocence, blissfully unaware of tragedies gets me. My son, home on school vacation didn't know. I will talk to him later when I have thought of a gentle but thoughtful way to incorporate not just the news of a tragedy, but a talk about how we respond to it. Fear, sadness, anger, generalizing cultures… we are still a community and have to be accountable for how we think through things and our behavior. Do we contribute to the chaos, or healing?

    Mine are also intellectually gifted. Parenting is the greatest challenge, and the best reward ever.

  9. KC says

    What a lovely young lady! I'm glad for those who are able to be home & safe with their families!

  10. says

    "I was quite unprepared for how helplessly and powerfully I would love these children"

    I think every parent feels that way. I know I did, and I've only been a mom for 9 months (18 if you count the pregnancy)

  11. Dave says

    Frequent lurker, first time poster. Thanks for that lovely statement "I was quite unprepared for how helplessly and powerfully I would love these children". As an adoptive father, I echo this, and even with a 9-year-old strong willed boy in our lives, my heart beats the same way.

    It is a sincere privilege to raise a child, blurring the definition of nature and nurture, and seeing them take their next steps toward adult lives.

  12. Bob Brown says

    I haven't any children, only nieces upon whom I dote. If I had, I'd feel like you do. Hurrah!

  13. says

    My own daughter is named Abby, too. I'd say she's a little more beautiful than yours, but I may be a little biased. :) I gave her an extra hug tonight as well.

  14. Rob R. says

    Thanks Ken. You should be warned that they aren't so cute when they total your minivan. (But you have at least 6-7 years for that fun event.)

  15. En Passant says

    Jeffrey Ellis wrote Apr 15, 2013 @4:47 pm:

    What uberduck said. Thanks for the post, Ken.

    Ditto.

  16. Dan says

    Beautiful! Thanks for sharing her and this small window into your lives with us. We are all better for it.

  17. princessartemis says

    You should be warned that they aren't so cute when they total your minivan. (But you have at least 6-7 years for that fun event.)

    Don't underestimate kids. My youngest nephew, aspiring evil genius that he is, totalled a car at the ripe old age of three.

    I don't have any kids of my own and never will; I have nephews instead. I can sort of understand.

  18. Avid Watcher says

    "Also, I can kill you with my brain." seems like an appropriate cation for that second picture.

    I wish you and your whole family all the best, Ken!

  19. says

    You need to change the title to say 'Dad' Ken

    Why you ask? Because anyone can be a father but it takes a special someone special to be a dad and that's exactly what you are her Dad.

    She's fearless, and frequently stubborn, and sweet, and sometimes profane, and surprisingly thoughtful, and entirely dangerous.

    In other words exactly like her Dad. FSM save us! ;)

  20. Myk says

    @Avid Watcher – "Welcome to the big leagues; I can kill you with my brain. Govern yourself accordingly". Parent-teacher night must be the fear of anyone who teaches the junior Kens. Although also a privilege, if they have even a touch of Ken's smarts and finesse.

  21. Ken Mencher says

    As a new father myself, I know how you feel, and am quite looking forward to seeing how my daughter grows up….I just hope I can protect her from all the nasty, evil, horrid things in the world (at least until she grows up enough to be an evil overlord (overlady?) herself)

  22. kmc says

    Congratulations to Abby and your whole family. I think that "helpless and powerful" is a very apt description of parenthood in general. That perfectly describes the cocktail of emotions that I feel in the presence of my daughter, and she's just past a year now. I can't fathom the depth of those emotions when she's Abby's age. As for the kittens vs. dragons debate, I'll just say that, as soon as my daughter (Ellery) is old enough not to eat the pages, we'll be reading Dove Isabeau, one of my favorites from childhood. (Conveniently available through the Amazon link in the sidebar!)