This is not my beautiful house. That is not my beautiful wife, in the adjacent room, speaking with her mother. This is not your regular author. He's in the other room putting his lovely daughter to bed with story and song.
How did I get here?
Here, on the other side of the country from where I normally rest my bones in between days filled with organizing and nights of bar society. Here, where I used to live when the Doctor and his bride were childless, and I was an unsure young man discovering his drink and himself. How we've all changed since then.
It's always melancholic to come out to Oakland to visit this heavily fortified compound. To carefully navigate the laser guided tazer darts that secure the perimeter of this unassuming Bay Area home. And, after doing so, to step out on to Telegraph, where one block away I'd play soccer every Sunday then walk down to the hipster stretch for an enormous salad before returning to my bohemian home to watch the Simpsons with Jfre Robot Coad. I didn't realize then, in that fog of youthful ambition and wastefulness that I'd never live so easily again. Visiting the Duvaliers is at once a pleasing reunion with the life I still love in this place, and a constant reminder that those times are gone.
But with the death of old times is the shocking dawn of the new. I've watched their child in some sort of stop motion progression these last 18 or so months. I've come out once every four or six months and witnessed her brain move from that completely dependent external parasite mind that we all begin with, and move towards asserting her own personality. Maybe it was the first time I saw her or maybe it was the second, but she was a tiny little bugger with a small halo of wispy hair coming in around her still drooly head. She sat in her high chair, grabbing tentatively at Cheerios and with uncertain effort brought them to her mouth. Her eyes, even then, were bright and curious: staring at me, some large hairy creature moving familiarly around her world.
The next time she was bigger, her hair still wispy but filling in, and she'd learned all about rejecting the food she was offered, stubbornly grabbing at her infant utensils determined to do the work herself. And the third time she had started talking a bit; new words coming out with a question mark following each one.
Tonight, four months since I've last seen her, she's taken yet another leap. Taller now, if one can describe a toddler as such. Talkative, speaking in primitive, but clear sentences. She still eyes me uncertainly, which many do in normal circumstances, so I can't hold it against her. The Doctor held her in both arms and began reciting the alphabet and she finished it from memory. Her hair has grown in, a thickening red tinted brunette. Her eyes are still bright, and she's walking with unsteady confidence from one parent to the next. She's good with reading, recognizes pictures and words, and I'm told she even sings.
I disdain children for the most part. But this one is a good citizen in training. As I grow deeper into fatigued adulthood, I expect I'll see her intermittently and that she'll just be smarter every time. The Doctor and his bride are doing well by the world with her. And while I despise the lazy bromide that children are the future, I may grudgingly subscribe to it if more of them displayed the raw potential of this one, and if more parents were the responsible, caring educators that the Duvaliers are proving themselves to be.