October 15, 2007

A Father's Journey with His Wordless Daughter


On the bumper with Dad
Originally uploaded by Citizen Rob.
In a week, we head off to New York City, and Schuyler is getting excited. She took us shopping for a nice outfit for our St. Martin's meeting and had me add some terms to her Big Box of Words (like "sea monster", "mermaid" and "New York City"). We even stopped by the still-frightening Libby Lu for another set of the little face jewel sticker thingies so she can dazzle the big city.

I'm a little nervous about this trip, of course. Despite the positive experience I've had all along with St. Martin's Press, I still worry about making an ass out of myself. It's a silly fear for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that they already read my book, which is full of stories that don't necessarily make me look like the nicest, smartest or most emotionally stable person in the world, and their response was "Let's publish this, by golly!" They already know the embarrassing parts.

I also worry about dropping the ball and losing Schuyler on the streets of New York. This is also sort of silly since anyone who has ever spent time with the two of us can tell you that I am a fussy and twitchy father when I am flying as solo parent with Schuyler. When Julie is there, we spilt the freaking out duties, but Julie is entering her busy season at the book store (where, by the way, she has gotten permission to hold my very first appearance, which feels exactly right) an won't be with us. It's just me and Schuyler and all my worries.

When she was a baby, I had an irrational fear of taking her on the second floor of a mall, after all. I was convinced that some lunatic was going to run up to her stroller, grab her and toss her over the railing. I also thought big dogs would run up in the park and run off with her, wiggling sadly in their big slobbery jaws. I don't expect any New York misadventure to catch me off-guard, although just typing that sent a little wave of anxiety through me, heightening the spaz factor up another notch or two.

For Schuyler, this trip is about building memories for her. I have no idea how she'll feel about this book when she's older, although from what I know of her personality so far, I suspect she'll be more interested in the possibilities of helping other people than in whatever privacy issues might arise from the book. She's excited about it now; ask her about the book, and she'll either refer to it on her BBoW as "my monster" or "schuylers monster", which is especially fun since I don't believe I've ever referred to it by name to her. She's picked that up on her own.

But no matter how she feels about it down the road (perhaps she'll write the sequel, Schuyler's Dumbass: The Stuff My Father Got Wrong), at the very least, she will one day be able to look back and remember that her father's book gave her the opportunity, however brief, to step out of her monster's shadow and walk the streets of Manhattan like she owned the place. She'll have memories of the museums and the energy of the city and seeing the site of King Kong's last stand. She'll be able to remember going into the Flatiron Building to talk to fancy pants publishing folks about HER book like the literary figure she is.

She's earned this. Well, I think we both have, really.

21 comments:

Amylia said...

Lovely post. Sometimes just sharing irrantional or ratinoal fears helps loosen their grip on us. I wonder how Schulyer will feel about the book, too. Some memoir style books receive rave reviews from the masses, but not the families. It seems like Schulyer is proud of the book and I think a father who cares that much about his little girl is a wonderful thing. I can't imagine many dads do such a thing, and I think it's really cool.

I'm excited to hear about your trip to the Big Apple!

Enjoy!

LOVE the photo, btw.

Nicole P said...

First of all, Rob - is that a new haircut for Schuyler? So freaking cute... That girl's got style :)

This part I loved - "she will one day be able to look back and remember that her father's book gave her the opportunity, however brief, to step out of her monster's shadow and walk the streets of Manhattan like she owned the place." Somehow, I can't see your daughter, even grown, thinking of you as a "dumbass." I know you'll have an excellent trip to NYC. I sort of can wait to hear about it...

Have fun as the Monster Slayers Take Manhattan!

Nicole

amusings_bnl said...

as much as i am looking forward to reading your book, i would so love to read that sequel! keep that in mind and suggest it when she's 15. she can write it and take YOU to nyc to st. martin's press for a visit.

you'll be more than fine in nyc. i've noticed in the past couple of years visiting there that it is .... nicer. not just disneyfied in times square, but people seem a lot nicer. friendlier. not the NYC i grew up in.

i look forward to the reports, and you won't embarrass yourself. you'll be fine.

:-)

Keri said...

Have a great time in the city! Looking forward to reading about it when you get back. :-)

DDK23 said...

OK, now I am going to expect a sequel from her. With her personality it would be a hilarious read!

Amy Lynn said...

Very, very cool. I will have my eyes peeled next week for you guys.

Bev Sykes said...

Don't worry about making an ass of yourself at St. Martin's...they'll be too busy being charmed by Schuyler to even notice you.

Rob said...

they'll be too busy being charmed by Schuyler to even notice you.

That is EXACTLY what I'm counting on...

Jenni said...

If Schuyler thinks your a dumbass when she grows up, you did your job right! LOL

I had the exact same irrational dog fear! It kept me from taking my son for walks around our neighborhood. Our county doesn't have a leash law, so we would drive into Austin and walk around their parks.

Liana said...

Ah ha ha! I love the potential title for a sequel, but I agree that your girl probably won't think of you as a dumbass. At least not most of the time (maybe sometimes in her teens :).
Also - LOVE the "no comment" shirt. It's perfect! As is her haircut.
You guys will have an AWESOME time.

Also- I think it's PERFECT that your first appearance is at Julie's bookstore! That's wonderful :)

Kate said...

Wooo- you're making appearances!

Have tons of fun, take tons of pictures, and give a lot of love to the Big Apple for us.

Cynthia said...

I'm so glad you're going to be doing personal appearances... I'll be standing in line with my copy of the book.

Have a great time in NYC!

Danielle said...

You both have earned it. You are so right. You must take some credit, because lord knows the extraordinary amount of effort you have put into this project. The only reason we are all able to fall madly in love with Schuyler is because you make her into words for us to read. And your words are lovely, by the way.

Linda Ball said...

Do you have an Austin visit scheduled? I went to Book People the other day and there were some of your friend Kerry's books on that remainder table in the entryway. I thought, "We'll know Rob made it when his older books are remaindered." Just kidding. Sort of.

grandefille said...

Monster Slayers Take Manhattan!

Oh, yes, take the video camera, Rob, please! Best movie ever!

Traveling mercies to you, and many hugs.

Mandy said...

When my daughter was an infant, I had similar irrational fears. It was amazing how imaginative I could be when picturing kidnapping scenarios. Not that I wish those fears on anyone, but it's been reassuring to talk with other moms and some dads who had the same thoughts and fears. It's that protective instinct kicking in.

I can't wait to hear about your adventures, I know you'll have a blast. The St. Martin's people might pay a bit of attention to you between doting on Schulyer, but I don't imagine you'll have much opportunity to embarass yourself when they're focusing on her. Also, they won't be able to miss how amazing she is and you play a role in that. That automatically give you cool guy status.

Have fun, take tons of pictures and tell us all about it!!

Beagoodmom said...

I learned something by reading your blog today. Thank you. My son's verbal ability is below age-appropriate levels, but it is due to his autism. I am always interested to learn more about children who face challenges and succeed. It is encouraging to me. Obviously our children are on different paths, but it is nice to read about another family that does not let these sort of things define them.

Anonymous said...

Just one question....
How does a 7 (6?) year old have better hair than me????

have fun in NYC

Shannon and Carey said...

Dah dah, dah dah dah
Dah dah, dah dah dah
Start spreadin' the newwwwwws
You're leavin' in a weeeeek

You two have a blast and take that big ol city by the horns! Schuyler.....LOVE the hairs darling!

Have a great time, ya'll.
Shannon in Austin

tonya said...

Oh how fun! Don't worry, New York is not the same as it used to be when it got that bad reputation :) Just hold her hand whenever you're in really crowded tourisy areas, like Times Square, or on a subway platform. Otherwise, no worries! She'll have so much fun -- I can't wait to hear all about it!

emjaybee said...

The only dogs that will rush you in New York will be overfed Boston Terriers in tiny wool jackets, attached to people wearing fashionable shoes. I think you can take them.

The dogs I mean. But probably the hipsters too.

If you're going to the Flatiron, you could try out the burger and shakes stand in Madison Sq. Park. It's pretty awesome, and always has a line, but it's worth it.