But you know, when I really think about it, the rough stuff may be something you -- or at least I -- simply outgrow. I noticed the other day that I look at provocatively dressed young girls with virtually nothing but paternal concern. Tight hip-hugger jeans make me shake my head. A tank top with the bra strap flopping down makes me want to ground someone. At one time I might have seen these girls and thought, "Wow! They sure start young nowadays!" Nowadays I'm simply horrified at the notion of starting young.
I look at these girls and think, "Do you really want that kind of attention?" and "Don't you know what men are really like?" and "Didn't your father pay enough attention to you when you were little?" And it's this last question that slices right through me. I don't want Shoshi to turn into some walking advertisement for sex; I want her to be confident enough to forgo whatever sartorial nonsense her friends are up to. I don't know how I'll prevent her from becoming a Hot Teen Strumpet -- but I have a feeling that much of her later self will be formed by what I do now.
So after all this, here's the punchline: I'm gonna continue being the same devoted, sweet daddy I've become. But I must ditch the self-doubt. The next time I find myself feeling a little self-conscious about my softening as a father, I'm going to take it like a man.