While I was getting my hair cut I overheard a conversation between the barber and a patron.
“They were acting just like children!”
“That’s an insult to children” the barber said.
An insult to children. That’s not something you hear everyday.
I remember looking at this album cover repeatedly when I was a kid. I never asked my dad if I could put it on the turntable. I just stared. Years later I was working in a used record/CD shop when Frank Zappa’s “Strictly Commercial” hits collection was released. The moment “Peaches En Regalia” poured out of the speakers I was hooked. I started buying Zappa’s albums and CD’s. Next I purchased “The Real Frank Zappa Book” to understand the man who created so much compelling music.
I read it. Then I read it again. I would find myself picking the book up and just reading a random section regularly.
Nearly twenty years have passed since my obsession with Zappa’s book began. Yet I could still remember whole sections and stories from it, including the section on Zappa’s children. Most people will be familiar with their names (Moon, Dweezil, Ahmet, Diva) and not much else. Zappa dedicated a chapter to his children and his philosophy of child rearing.
Last month I got curious and ordered a copy from Amazon so I could revisit this little treasure from my teen years. I flipped right to the section on family and started reading.
As far as rearing children goes, the basic idea I try to keep in mind is that a child is a person. Just because they happen to be a little shorter than you doesn’t mean they are dumber than you. A lot of people make that mistake, and forget how much value there is in raw intuition-and there’s plenty of that in every child.
We do all the regular stuff, like trying to keep them away from danger and out of trouble, but, after that we have the responsibility of providing them with the basic data they’re never going to get in school.
To the extent that it is practical, we share with them our personal philosophies, and attempt to impart to them what we like and what we don’t like-so that we at least have some basis for understanding each other-but, in the final analysis, we realize that they are ‘organisms unto themselves.’ Whatever they’re going to do in life, they’re going to do regardless of home instruction.
from The Real Frank Zappa Book by Frank Zappa, page 252 (all emphasis in original text)
This section explained a lot about how I interact with Penelope.
I took this photo a few months after we returned from China. My first thought was “I have a feeling we’ll be seeing this look a lot in the coming years”. In an instant Penelope didn’t look two. She looked timeless.
There’s a universe of experience and potential in her. I like to think there is in everyone, given the right circumstances and opportunities. Everyday I remember my little girl will be a grown woman, possibly with children of her own. Maybe grandchildren. I hope one day she will be an old woman, reflecting on the life that blossomed in and around her. That’s what I see.
Could be I’ve seen the closing scene of “Raising Arizona” too many times.
We’re all somewhere in our lives. Babies, teens, thirtysomethings, or nearly at the century mark. Just at different points, different stages. Or as Zappa would say “You are what you is”.
This is part 1 of what I hope to be a 5 (or more) part series about the major influences on my parental philosophy.