Being more than an accident of birth

I spoke to my daughter today and thanked her for being my daughter. Her reply was to say “thanks, but I don’t actually have much of a choice in the matter, since you are my father.” Who taught her to be so smart?

I pointed out that she was biologically correct, however from my perspective that wasn’t quite the same thing.

For example, I am biologically a father because I managed to spawn a child. However what makes me a father is not the fact of managing to impregnate her mother (try not to think about it) but because I am in her life, being a father. How I interact with her is far more important than the mere fact of my presence or existence, which is far more important than a single point in time that lead to fertilisation.

In a similar way, I am grateful that my daughter was brought into this world, for who she is and who she has become. But I am also grateful for the role she plays in my life, for how she interacts with me as my daughter. I pointed out to her that she could choose to not be my daughter any more  She can’t change the biological fact of her DNA that leads to me, however she could say to her mother “I never want to see Dadda again”. She could refuse to talk to me any time that I am near, she could refuse to do anything that I ask and she could go out of her way to be problematic. Instead she chooses to see me, chooses to talk to me and listen to what I have to say and she does what she can to live harmoniously. It is these choices that I was thanking her for, as well as having allowed me to spawn a child process.

In these ways is she being more than an accident of birth.

Later that same day we were in a car park outside of a shopping centre. We heard a man open up the door to his car and yell out “SHUT UP!” at the top of his voice. My daughter and I looked at each other and said “not a father”.

There is an element of “True Scotsman” in this – a True Scotsman would never do X, this Scotsman has done X, therefore he is not a True Scotsman. The element is important to note, you are who you are (a truism) regardless of anything. Just don’t mistake that you were born as an excuse for the rest of your life. The decisions you make every day is who you choose to be rather than who you are by default. In this case I believe that what I am thanking my daughter for is the continual choices she is making rather than a biological fact.