This product, our daughter, could bake a remarkably satisfying peach crumble, speak intelligently about Hamlet and Macbeth, play a shrewd, persistent game of tennis, perform a Chopin nocturne with only half a dozen mistakes, make her friends laugh out loud and braid her little sister's hair three different ways. No election to high office, no commercial undertaking, no literary or artistic attainment – none could equal the deed of nurturing a human being from infancy to adulthood to produce a product like this.
What a list, hey? As an 18 year-old, I would have liked to have made my folks proud with any one of those achievements. But something about this list has not sat right with me and I haven't known why.
We are going away on Thursday and this morning, as I added to our list of what to take, it occurred to me that Robinson's list is merely an inventory of skills that his daughter has learned and perhaps even mastered. As a list of feats, it's rather impressive. But it reads like a report card of competencies, and to me, lacks any kind of meaning.
Is she thoughtful? Does she hold the door open for people behind her? Is she kind? Is she polite and respectful? Is she concerned about her peers and the planet?
Am I expecting an unreasonable intimacy from a writer I've never met? Am I expecting him to value the same qualities in a person that I esteem? Or at 18, is one still too unformed by the world to have any real connection to it?