Monday, October 22, 2012

Another open letter to my girls

Dear Kids,

I need to tell you some stuff -- sort of clear the air. I want you to know where you stand and what kind of a father I expect to be. No surprises.

First, I intend to cry at your weddings. Being your father is a rare and special privilege and anything that marks the end of that era, like the finality of your moving in with a suitable replacement, will reduce me to a blubbering mass of appetizer sneaking tuxedo. This also explains why I get teary eyed at all the precursor milestones like when you go away for a weekend, or when you no longer need me to tuck you in and say "goodnight." It does not absolve you of the responsibility to wash the dishes, though. And please make sure to have a carving station at your weddings.

Next -- I hear you. I really, really do. I may be doing something else. I may even be watching football. But I hear you. This does not mean that what you say registers, but I hear you. If you say something problematic, it might take some time, but it will sink in.

I will always be ready to help, no questions asked. At least not at that moment. Once things calm down, we're gonna have a chat.

Every moment with you is a teachable moment. Whether you know it or not, I'm trying at every second to model behavior, explain situations or anticipate questions so that you can maximize how often and how much you learn.

When you shut me out, it hurts. When we fight, it hurts. When I have to be the bad guy, it hurts. Just understand that you can never really appreciate how bad it hurts until you have your own kids and they ignore you or think you are an idiot.

Some of the television shows you choose to watch really are truly and objectively terrible. When kids say "parents don't understand," it most often means that parents thought you were better than that and yet you choose to wallow in silliness. Of course, when my parents mocked the shows I liked, they had no idea what they were talking about. But this is completely different.

I don't think you need to wear makeup. Yes, I say that primarily because I'm your dad, secondarily because it makes you look like a female hooker clown, and thirdly because, whether you choose to believe it, you really are beautiful, inside and out, without it.

Same thing with heels.

Someday, someone will choose to be with you not because of the product on your face or the shape of your calves but because of who you really are, and you will be happy. And I will cry. But then I'll wander to the carving station and be ok.

Keeping your room neat is important. It teaches you responsibility and organization and prevents me from breaking my neck when I come to wake you up each day.

Yes, I will continue to embarrass you in front of your friends, be neurotic about being places on time, make bad jokes (though I know they are brilliant), demand that you use proper grammar, and expect you to clean up after yourselves. I want your future behavior to reflect well on you and on me and my parents.

I admit -- I have made some mistakes and questionable choices in my life. This is not to be viewed as permission to you to make the same or similar choices. It is my goal as a result of experience and my wish, after years and years of developing hindsight, to help you avoid the problems and mistakes I have made. I want better for you than I have and am and not because my parents were at all even remotely deficient (they weren't -- they are my heroes) but because every parent should want better for his or her children.

I will continue to make mistakes. I am human (no matter what I claim to the contrary) and will try to do better. Bear with me as I bear with you.

Sometimes I will have to let you make the mistakes and it will kill me inside.

I am so proud of both of you every day.


1 comment:

Feel free to comment and understand that no matter what you type, I still think you are a robot.