This post was Jill’s idea.
“Hey Jeff, why don’t you write a post about Dexter’s dad?”
“What? Oh, yeah . . . that might be interes—”
“JUST WRITE IT!!”
Dexter is a Showtime show about a killer who only stalks and hunts other killers (which really makes him more of a vigilante and less of a serial killer but whatever*). I’ve referenced it before, but it’s not like you’d remember. Since you can’t remember something you never read.
According to the show, Dex didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to express his homicidal bloodlust by killing killers. He wasn’t drawn to killers the same way Bundy was drawn to college co-eds. Dex was coached. By his dad.
So you must be thinking that Dex’s dad is also some sort of psychopath who lives in the shadows. Nope. Before he died, Harry was a Miami cop. One of those ultra-good cops who are willing to break the law if it means getting the bad guy. Does that make sense? Probably not, I wrote it.
You see, when Dex was growing up, Harry recognized that the boy wasn’t right. After fruitlessly begging young Dex to pleeeeease not kill, Harry decided to go with plan B: channeling his son’s bloodlust in the most socially acceptable/practical way possible: by targeting those who deserved to die but somehow escaped justice (like Casey Anthony).
Harry set about creating a code, a list of rules that helped Dex avoid detection while relieving his abhorrent need and sparing innocent lives. For some reason, I’m thinking there were 20 rules in this code. Throughout the series, Dex sticks to it religiously. The rules include creating a believable “cover life,” thoroughly vetting targets, not sharing his secret with anyone, and so on. Really, I have no idea what’s exactly in the code. But it has worked for 8 seasons.
The point is: even though Dexter’s need to kill (what Dex refers to as his “Dark Passenger”) went against every ounce of Harry’s being, Harry still supported his son. He didn’t approve of who he saw Dexter becoming, but he accepted him. He didn’t understand him, but he didn’t fight him or punish him for who he needed to be. He worked with Dex, guiding him to find a way to make him a part of the world.
And that’s what Jill asked me to point out here. That’s what she cites when she wants to remind me that our kids are their own people. They’re going to be who they are.
“If Dex’s dad could accept his son for who he is—a freaking serial killer—then surely you can forgive Ian’s quirks!”
After the eye-roll, and the inner dialogue that includes the unspoken “Dexter is a TV show filled with TV characters and scripted by TV writers for TV viewers. Harry doesn’t exist. Neither does Dex. So why don’t you lecture the TV? Mkay?**” I always back off. Because I agree. She’s being an advocate for my kids and OF COURSE I want to agree with her. Because I know that these three amazing humans need my support, love, and guidance unconditionally. Even if that means they won’t conform to the ideas I carry in my head of who I think they should be.
I need to help them figure out who they are and how that matters. If that means writing a code, I’ll be sure to post it here too.
And now that you’re rolling your eyes at me, understand that this isn’t about hiding the bodies of my kids’s victims. Or creating a code that allows them to accumulate a body count. It’s an extreme example of acceptance. It’s a reminder to let my little ones develop without cramming them into a prefabricated box.
It might look like they’re coloring outside the lines until you understand that they’re drawing their own lines. And they’re coloring inside those lines very well.
*I know that it’s his Dark Passenger that differentiates Dexter from vigilantes. I know justice is a nice side effect of his killing and not his ultimate goal. His goal is to kill people. I know these things.
**I CANNOT STAND “mkay?” I put it in this post just to piss me off.