My Daughter Can Run Farther Than I Can

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 6.03% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Some Very Manly Bloggers are astonished that John Scalzi’s daughter can bench-press more than he can.  Well, to be fair, they’re astonished that Scalzi is not shamed by this revelation, as – being a Man – if John Scalzi spent any time at the gym at all, his superior boytastic muscle development means that be able to outdo his kid in mere weeks.  He’s not even trying.
Scalzi, the problem, is literally weak – and he doesn’t even see a problem with this.
I, too, am a Wimpy Liberal, as my daughter can run way farther than I can.  I walk 5ks, she runs them, and then runs back to catch up with me and then jogs in place next to me as I heave my pudgy frame along the pathway.  And when she’s done, she doesn’t even sweat.
How can I reveal this shameful fact to you?  How can I tell you that my daughter routinely bests me?
Simple: I set my own goddamned priorities.
I say this because a recent comment mused how “a pudling” like me was clearly incapable of killing a man.  No, seriously.  Some douche was literally attempting to sway people’s opinions on my writing by asking, “Could Ferrett strangle a man with his own vas deferens?  No?  He couldn’t murder a man in cold blood?  Well, he’s lessened as a human being!”
And I thought, Killing people is not how I define my self worth.
If “running marathons” or “knifing prison guards” was as important to me as “writing” or “beekeeping,” well, I’d be a lot better at it.  But even though the world tells me that a True Man must be slim and muscular and be able to beat Wolverine in a bar fight, I’ve decided – perhaps irrationally – that my ability to love my wife is far more important than my ability to kill her.  That my ability to engineer solutions as a programmer provides more worth to the world than my ability to eradicate terrorists as a murderer, and my ability to write stories that inspire people is more important than my ability to create sorties that end people.
Which outrages these people, because here I am perfectly content with my life as a pudgy heart patient.  I’m not fulfilling their needs at all!  I’m not even trying!  And yet I’m wandering around happy!
How dare he treat my arbitrary definitions of what makes someone valuable as though they’re arbitrary?
And so my kid outruns me in every race we’ve ever had, and I’m fine with that.  It’s not like she’s a better writer than I am, beating me in a field where I’ve chosen to compete, and…
…oh, wait.
I’d be okay with that, too.
Because one of the things that I chose to prioritize as a human being was, “I want my daughters to be the strongest, most competent, happiest human beings they’re capable of being.”  I did not agree to a lifelong contest, where in Traditional Manly Fashion I would have to pummel my kids into oblivion in every contest just to remind them Who Is Superior, and if by some chance I lost well, that would be the time when she would have to scoop my beating heart out and devour the last of my self-worth, as I was no longer capable of putting her in her place.
If my daughter can write better stories than I can, then I say great.  I want my daughter to outdo me.  I will soar if my kid is happier than I am, has more loving relationships than I do, has a superior career to me.
I am not lessened by her achievements; because my goal was to inspire her, every good thing she does is also my success.
So run, kid.  Beat the pants off of me.  I did my damndest to help you fly, and if you soar above horizons that I can never reach, well, I think that’s what every good parent was hoping for.  Instead of, you know, being an insecure douche who’s secretly engineering his kids to fail so he can feel better about his life.

5 Comments

  1. Linda McCann Jeffers
    Jul 16, 2014

    Excellent!

  2. Jaleh D
    Jul 16, 2014

    This was truly awesome! I loved Scalzi’s article, and then to see yours, too, just makes my day. I know my husband would love to see our son do things even better than we can as he gets older and that even though we have no daughters, he would be right there encouraging her just as much. And our friends have the same attitude, so mutual encouragement on that sector. Keep it up!

  3. WaveyDavey
    Jul 18, 2014

    Well, yeah. I think it’s called, erm, parenting.
    It’s a shame articles like this have to be written at all. I thought, as parents, that is was our job to encourage them to be better than us.

  4. Kelly
    Jul 21, 2014

    My (soon to be ex) and I, in past years, took our kids on vacations to the National Parks. Every single hike we went on my ex would race to the top. (There are lots of mountains in the western National Parks!)
    I’d be strolling along with the kids while they ping ponged all over the trail picking up rocks and sticks. We’d get up there and he’d tell us what was there before we could discover it for ourselves. I had long given up trying to “hike with him.” The faster I tried to go to keep up, the faster he would go. It just wasn’t fun. 🙁
    One time, for some odd reason, we got up to the top of some difficult climb before him. The kids were proud. “Hey dad! We beat you this time!” He immediately went on the defense explaining that he had to go back for something (blah blah blah) and then said:
    “I can out hike any of you any day of the week!”
    Out hike??
    Out hike!
    What is “out hiking” someone???
    I wasn’t even aware that hiking was a competition!
    That was actually the moment I realized I didn’t like him very much any more. I mean, how do you measure “out hiking” someone? Being the first to the end of the trail? Being less winded? Spying more nature?
    Every evening I would ask if anyone wanted to go for an evening walk. Does that mean I “out hiked” them because I was willing to do more hiking?
    Good grief!
    Oh yeah, he was also the dad who would make sure he would win Candy Land when they were little, to show them how to be a winner! O.o
    Love your writing! Thanks over the validation.
    🙂
    Kel

  5. Rachel
    Aug 22, 2014

    Dang it, I thought that was a link to Scalzi’s article, and I fell into a deep dark hole of horrifying macho rhetoric! *shudders*

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