First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.
May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.
When the Crystal Meth is offered, may she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half and stick with Beer.
Guide her, protect her when crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.
Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes and not have to wear high heels. What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, goddammit.
May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.
Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.
O Lord, break the Internet forever, that she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers and the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.
And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.
And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back. “My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.
-Tina Fey, “Bossy Pants.”
So why did I post this?
Sometimes as parents we need those extra happy thoughts when we think of our kids’ future. My moment came last week when driving the family out to dinner and one of the kids’ friend brought up the subject of Chris Brown.
For those who don’t know who Chris Brown is, please let me explain. He’s an asshole who beat the sh*t out of his girlfriend, the singer Rihanna, and for some reason is adored by a legion of mentally ill female fans named Team Breezy. Whenever I’m having a bad day, I get on my other twitter account and mock him ruthlessly (like when he says, “Music drowns out the noise! Focus drowns out the ignorant” and you re-tweet it and add, “What drowns out a battered woman’s screams?” **Not my tweet but still a nice swipe at him). All of this is always great fun because he takes his tweets very personally. As an added bonus, Team Breezy tries to protect him but that’s like watching listening to True Blood fans explain how awesome the newest season is this year…
Anyway, the friend asked if I liked Chris Brown because one of his songs came on the radio and I changed it. I said “No, absolutely not. Do you know how he treats women? Did you see the photo of Rihanna’s face?”
And her response shocked me, “Yes. But I like him and he sings some great songs.”
We were driving on the highway back to our house and instinctively put on my turn blinker to pullover then make her walk the rest of the way because I wasn’t going to have someone in my car who thought Chris Brown actually sings music. BUT Ken being a super nice guy, made me continue to drive.
The way I was raised – you don’t lift a hand on a woman. Under no circumstances do you ever do that. You don’t hit your spouse. You don’t hit your loved ones. Hell, even schoolyard fights we learned to destroy their self-esteem rather than their face. It was a lesson that I wanted to mimic to my children.
During moments like this you start to wonder if you’ve had that conversation with your son about never hitting his wife (yes, sorry everyone, our son came out as straight, and we know this because of his internet search history but I’m not allowed to write about that). I started to wonder if I’ve had those conversations with the girls about “not even once” or “even if he says he loves you.” But at 80 mph on the highway with all of these emotions and thoughts going through you head all you can do is start the Tina Fey prayer.
Tina Fey was spot on when she wrote this from the point of view of a mother. As a father, or more specifically a non-religious father, a month ago my prayer would have been simpler.
Please don’t let me daughters become strippers, and while that is a valid profession that can potentially make lots of money, guide them towards a career in the snow where they are constantly bundled up wearing clothes.
The Chris Brown conversation instantly made that prayer more complex and was then magnified a few days later by the shooting of the elementary school in Connecticut. Suddenly, I had to not only worry about my kids’ potential domestic abuse from auto-tuned nut-job but now I have to worry about school shooters. My prayer today would be longer than that damn Hobbit movie they somehow managed to split into three separate parts. Even if the kids are 10-14 years old now, I can see myself putting on a leash like one of those obese parents who put on their kids at Disney Land. Now that I think of it, I’m almost sure my mom still wishes she could put me on one of those things.
I’ve come to terms with the fact you can only protect them so much before they have to go out and make their own decisions. You are given 18 years, less if you come into their life later life I did, to make sure you have taught them everything you know so they can avoid your mistakes or at least minimize the damage when they repeat them – and they will repeat them. You have to let them know important things like, “don’t brush your teeth then drink orange juice,” “when you use the scented lotion in the bathroom by yourself everyone knows what you are doing when you are finished” or “if you listen to Nickleback your IQ drops 20 points.”
If I could add one more line to Tina Fey’s prayer it would be:
Please make good decisions and if you don’t
THEN FOR F*CKSSAKE DON’T PUT IT ON FACEBOOK OR TWITTER LIKE THESE PEOPLE: