Dear Future Child

Dear Future Child, don’t be like your mother. Don’t spend your childhood sprawled on the floors of bookshops, reading those books. Books are dangerous. They will turn you into a thinker, and rarely are thinkers happy people. They are bound to have a rough inner life. Lemony Snicket was right: “All the secrets of the world are contained in books. Read at your own risk.” Dear child, don’t take the risk. When your mother asks you what you want as a Christmas/birthday/graduation gift, don’t say you want a book. Ask for a toy.

 

Dear Future Child, don’t be like your mother. Don’t copy the introvert gene into your own DNA. If possible, be an extravert instead. You’ll have an easier time adjusting in school, and feeling accepted as you are. While the world often prods introverts to “come out of their shells” and “be more sociable,” it often welcomes extraverts just as they are. Extraverts are naturally celebrated, see, while introverts always seem to have to pretend that they’re enjoying the party, or to explain why they aren’t.

 

Dear Future Child, don’t be like your mother. Between trying too hard and not trying at all, there is an entire spectrum of varying degrees of effort. Between caring too much and not caring at all, there is a scale of moderation. Don’t swing only from one extreme to the other, like she did. She had a habit of bending ‘til she broke, or of staying in pieces because she didn’t want to cut herself trying to rebuild anything anymore. Remember the in-between. Remember that happiness can be had in the interval.

 

Dear Future Child, don’t be like your mother. She spent too much time inside her head, and it was a dangerous place. Inside it was an ongoing narration, automatic and endless. (I blame the books for this.) That relentless stream of words inside her head was maybe one of the reasons why she too often had the urge to write—it was a way to keep sane, or at least to regain enough to appear to be sane. I hope you grow up to be one who didn’t need to write to keep sane, who was sane simply by virtue of his/her being. If you would someday want to write, that would be great. But I hope you would not find that you need to.

 

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.” ― Margaret Chittenden

 

Dear Future Child, don’t be like your mother. She walked on the edge, and by luck or grace, she did not fall. She got by alright, but it could so easily have gone the other way. You might not be as lucky.

 

So dear, dear child, don’t be like your mother.

Lead a lighter life. ◊

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