My daughter the sword swallower

sasha

My fifteen year old daughter, Sasha, publicly performed her sword swallowing act this past weekend at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum in Gatlinburg, TN for Sword Swallowers Day and in the process officially became a member of the Sword Swallowers Association International.  She is currently one of about 25 female sword swallowers in the entire world.

There are three common questions that arise when people find out about my teenage daughter’s unusual hobby:

1. How did she tell you about it?

2. How did she learn to do it?

3. How do you feel about your daughter being a sword swallower?

1. How did she tell you about it?

My wife and I were watching TV in the living room when my daughter came down from her room and said “There’s something I want to show you.  Don’t freak out.”

2. How did she learn to do it?

Over the summer we sent Sasha to Los Angeles to spend time with some of her relatives on the west coast.  Her Vietnamese grandmother took her shopping in one of the more interesting areas of L.A. which included a small Chinese curiosity shop where she became fascinated by a dusty, aging volume simply called The Book of Swords.  Among other things, the book provides drawings and instructions on the ancient art of sword swallowing.  When she got back to Georgia, she practiced quietly and diligently in her room for weeks until she was ready to show us what she had learned to do.  Surprisingly, her younger brother and sister knew about it but managed to keep it a secret from me and my wife.

3. How do you feel about your daughter being a sword swallower?

At first I freaked out.  I didn’t want to see it when she wanted to show me what she could do and instead asked for a reprieve of a few days while my wife and I researched it.  I learned that sword swallowing is in fact dangerous – but it is also an art that, when practiced correctly, allows the practitioner to accomplish remarkable feats.  And then when I finally saw my daughter perform …

A father worries about his children harming themselves.  He worries that they will get involved in unsavory things or end up with unsavory friends.  He worries about his daughters more than his sons out of a perhaps chauvinistic belief that his daughters are more likely to be taken advantage of, will have more trouble standing up for themselves and saying no, are more susceptible to peer pressure, etc.  A father of teenage daughters lives half his life in fear and I am no exception.  Yet, when I finally saw my daughter perform …

I was amazed.  I learned that my daughter can accomplish anything she puts her mind to.  I learned that, unlike many people her age, my daughter has no body image issues whatsoever and in fact is in complete control over her own body and emotions in a way I find enviable.  I realized that my daughter will never have troubles saying no to anyone because she freakin’ swallows swords.  My daughter is fierce and wonderful, and I never have to worry about her being her own person and doing whatever she wants to do. 

I learned that I worry way too much.

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