Dear Parent

Dear Parent

Having worked with children professionally for over a decade, I have observed countless parenting techniques over the years. Now that I’m a parent myself, I know how challenging it can be to transform a self-involved mini-person into a contributing member of society. But that doesn’t mean we should totally give up, does it, America?

Dear Parent:

Now that I have stepped out on my own into the real world, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for all the gifts you bestowed upon me. The following sentiments will have to be brief because my time limit on the public library computer is fifteen minutes and I’ve already spent eight of them on Facebook and two on LinkedIn, but here goes!

From the beginning, you encouraged me to follow my heart and my dreams. This could get confusing, like when my heart told me I loved ice cream and there was only broccoli on my plate, or when my dreams led me to audition for American Idol and I was told I had the voice of a goat. But you never forced me into tough decisions, instead allowing me to eat what I wanted and pursue interests outside of my talent range, because that is what love is, isn’t it? Never asking for a commitment? I still firmly believe that they will let me into that NBA tryout because, though I may only be 5’3”, I believe dreams are stronger than heightand you taught me that!

Thank you for exposing me to every kind of sport and language and activity under the sunthe more expensive the better!so that I never had to find out what “free play” and “imagination” and other poor-people hobbies are. I can’t tell you how many times my pink belt in judo has come in handy on the streets of my hipster neighborhood when a voter registration worker would not leave me alone, or how my kindergarten-level Mandarin has sped up my orders at Chinese restaurants. Not to mention the shelves at my apartment (could you send the rent check, by the way?) that are covered with pottery I designed and painted BY MYSELF! My guests (both of them, in the last 6 months!) just cannot stop grinning when they see my artwork. Oh, and I still wish you could have seen my college advisor’s face when I gave him my “Why Pinterest Is a Legitimate Major” presentation. SPEECHLESS.

You were always there to value the contributions I made to our family and the world. By posting every single piece of construction paper I ever drew/glued/glittered on to the refrigerator, you let me know that I could never do wrong, and that all of my efforts were of equal importance, which is to say the utmost. And hellomy birthday parties?! Not only did I learn the value of competition between both adults and with other kids from age one, but I also understood that every milestone of my life should be a tickertape event that revolves around me at great expense and effort. Which is weird, because all I got this year from my friends were a few Facebook greetings and a card. What is wrong with them?! A birthday is not a birthday without pony rides and a petting zoo!

I bet you’re surprised that I’m even writing this, since you never pushed the whole “manners” thing on me. I know other adults could tell how mature I was when I referred to them by their first name or “Dude” instead of ma’am or sirsuch outdated terms! Remember that time at the toy store when that girl’s mother said to her, “What do you say to Mommy for buying you that toy?” and before she could answer, I replied, “GIMME!”? That was so funny. Also, she learned a valuable lesson about snoozing and losing that day, and who left with that toy and ten others? THIS kid.

I’m grateful that you always taught me that you were my friend, not just a parent. That distinction is what makes me comfortable crashing with you from time to time (landlord-determinedthey are so picky about rent here!) and allowing you to do my laundry when I’m just not up to it. I hope we’ll always be this close. You were so good at making obstacles disappear from my path, from the furniture that you rearranged when I was a baby to that annoying kid in my high school play who stole the lead from me (what did you have on his mom, by the way?). Sure, I can get a little stressed from time to timeone counselor recently referred to me as having “the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s,” so I had to stop seeing her and find someone who supported my dreams and my need for that daily Xanax/Valium cocktail. There’s a lot of traffic here! If there’s one thing you taught me, it’s that struggle is an anomaly, not a fact of life, and just like those aforementioned obstacles, I should count on the world working to remove suffering from my path as a personal courtesy. What with how it’s supposed to revolve around me and all (what happened to my annual Disneyland trip, now that I think of it?).

Because of you and the computer you put in my room and the smartphone you gave me when I was five, I DO have marketable skillsI don’t care what that guy who just interviewed me says! I’m currently working on a novel that’s written entirely in hashtags, and I’m not sure that job would have given me enough time for my dreams anyway. The government is just going to have to eat those student loans for the time being as I follow my heart, you know? Because if my #novel doesn’t work out, there are always my reality show auditions. I just know I deserve to be famous for something. If not nothing.

So here’s to you, parent-friend: for all the times you bailed me out of a DUI, chewed my food for me when it was tough, took me to Chuck E. Cheese instead of letting me play in the dirt, gave me cool video games instead of lame-o books, allowed me to spend summers relaxing instead of “learning the value of work and a dollar”, and your total focus on me to the detriment of all your other interests. Some may refer to us as a nation of wimps, but I think this generation is going to do great things. All over Instagram.


Your Forever Child

P.S. I’ve included a picture of one of my heroescan you get to work on making my Halloween costume so I look just like her?

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