This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, September 6, 2000

September 6, 2000 - Maddy Turns 13

Today my daughter becomes a teenager.

This is, of course, impossible. Maddy, my sweet daughter, was just born the other ... Oh my God.

I'm reminded of my Aunt Edith, who told me on the eve of my 13th birthday that something horrible was going to happen to me the next day. She asked me not to take it personally, but she said she really didn't want to talk to me for the next seven years. She was perfectly serious.

But I'm not Aunt Edith. I WANT Maddy to keep talking to me. She is one of my favorite conversationalists. From her first word ("dad"), I have found her absolutely fascinating.

She was a dreamy yet serious child. When she was about three, we were driving through a snowstorm one night. She mused quietly, "Some people call them snowflakes. But I call them starflakes."

But it isn't just Maddy's conversation that interests me. We once threw a party and entertained some 20 guests. At the end of the party, Maddy, then four or five, went into the bedroom and brought out everybody's coat, matching each one to its owner without hesitation, even for the folks she hadn't seen when they arrived.

As a student, Maddy was almost frighteningly well-organized. Once we asked her about an upcoming test. She informed us that she'd been studying up for it, 15 minutes every night for the past two weeks. Her idea.

I remember her acting debut, when she played a middle aged farm wife so convincingly, so engagingly, that I was utterly bewildered. Where did my daughter go?

I could go on. I have thousands of mental snapshots and audiorecordings of her.

In brief, Maddy is the best evidence I have seen for evolution. Or as my wife puts it, "It's hard to raise a child who is more mature than you are."

Maddy was our firstborn. That means that she changed us. She made us aware, as no one really is until they have children.

She made us aware of the future. We took out insurance policies, established savings accounts. We thought about a house not in terms of its costs or shopping convenience, but its nearness to schools, parks, libraries, other children to play with.

Before Maddy, my own awareness of the political and cultural environment was probably best summed up as: "live and let live." I got by fine, whatever the set-up.

But after Maddy, I was passionately concerned about the state of our schools, the efficacy and integrity of public officials. I became radicalized, an activist for causes I ignored before. What kind of world was this for Maddy to grow up in?

As is the case with so many other new parents, we rediscovered the public library: an almost inexhaustible source of books on health (to vaccinate or not to vaccinate, when to potty train, brain development), free story times, a place to meet other parents and children, children's videos, and children's literature in all its glory.

We saw the world anew through the eyes of our shining daughter. What we saw connected us to the society around us, invested us in it both emotionally and financially, made us a part of our culture in ways we had not been before, made us better people, better citizens, more aware of the responsibility one generation has to another.

And now she is a teenager. Incredible.

Happy Birthday, Maddy. Thank you.

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