Of all the trails a man rides in this world, the Dad-trail ain't for sissies. Show-horses or pleasure boats need not apply. The Dad-trail is a technical and treacherous ascent through some ledges that appear impossible to navigate from below. Falling down on the Dad-trail in some places could mean a plunge to the boulder-strewn valley below. For this steep pull, you better have a solid, High-Octane Mule under saddle that knows where to put its feet. And you better have a steady heart that can stand having its fear of heights tickled.
Raising kids, especially girl-kids, terrifies the alert parent. Unless you live in a cave, the strident din of exploitative and seductive messages aimed at our daughters is unavoidable. Add that to the busy noise of well meaning experts and you face an importunate quest. So take this daughter of mine. She's the older of two girl-kids, and she has three brothers. At the age of 13, we are only two thirds up the Dad-trail. AND she is AMAZING! Such hyperbolic platitude is all the descriptive power I can muster to lay bare the swell I feel in my heart for her. I've used all the Dad-tools I know to help her get a proper start in life: Godly love, music, curiosity and the desire for learning, firm discipline, horse-sense, and chores without the possibility of parole.
Imagine the surge of systemic shock that burned through my veins this past week when I learned that Child Protective Services had taken her from the middle of a test in class for an unexpected interview. Some anonymous soul had filed a complaint with the State. After some very personal questions about the people who live in my home, he finally asked my sweet girl-kid if she ever felt afraid around me.
"Pshshshaw! You kiddin'? If you saw the places we go together on mules, you'd never ask that question!" Apparently we passed the official inquisition with flying colors...
(These photos were taken today on the Haslem trail. My 13 year old girl-kid skinned this 2 year old mule all by her self.)