When Celeste was just a few years old, I noticed how closely she watched me and began to realize how so much of what I did had an impact on her. I began viewing the choices I made by the way they could influence her. If I didn't want her to accept rudeness or disrespect, then she couldn't see me tolerate it. If I didn't want her to be reckless with money, she needed to see me be frugal. If I didn't want her to see me eating junk food, I had to hide it much better.
Celeste has forced me to be a better person than I would've been without her, and I hope more parents will pause to consider what their actions are teaching their kids. If they don't want their child someday to put up with a spouse who is abusive, gambles or cheats, then they shouldn't put up with such things themselves. If they don't want their child someday to take their own life, then no matter how desperate that parent might be, they should understand that suicide can't ever be their way out.
I'm not the perfect parent, but I like that she's my moral compass, the reason behind anything good that I do. And she knows that.
I know she knows because after I typed that last line, she sat at my computer and read what I'd written.
"You made a mistake," she said.
"What's that?" I asked, anticipating she was about to reassure me that I've never once failed her.
"I used to have a pet hornet," she said. "His name was Jerry."
Since I wouldn't want her to turn in an assignment knowing there was a mistake, I'm amending my earlier statement.
Spiders are the only living creatures that have no potential as pets.
Reach Karin Fuller at karinful...@cnpapers.com.