random thoughts in real time

Thanks, Mom & Dad.

Dear Mom & Dad,

Watching and reading about this guy who shot his daughter’s laptop because she dissed him on Facebook made me so angry earlier today. There’s just so much going wrong there: the ease with which this man appeals to a gun to “solve” his problems; the total overreaction to normal teenage angst; the disrespect of children (and I dare say girls in particular) evident both in his wretched actions and the staggering number of people who have stepped up to praise them; I could go on.

But after venting on my own Facebook wall, I felt completely overcome by gratitude for the two of you.

I remember how tense and tough things could get when I was a teenager, and I am so, so glad that I learned to navigate those moments with parents like you.

Because you conduct yourselves as responsible, productive, compassionate people, I have always had good role models to emulate.

Because you didn’t just make up rules, but offered reasons for why certain behaviors were frowned-upon or off limits, I learned to think about the consequences of my actions, and to choose to do the right thing. (That whole “here’s why we do this not that” approach came in handy in my classroom, too.)

Because you didn’t fly out of control when I inevitably made mistakes, I (eventually) learned not to be so hard on myself, either, but to try harder to do better the next time. (That’s where this guy really gets me. Does he seriously think he can intimidate people into perfection? If we all resorted to weapons every time someone made a mistake, there would literally be no people— of any age— left.)

Because you recognized the difference between disagreement and disobedience, I didn’t waste time being “grounded” for petty conflicts.

Because we didn’t always agree, and even screamed at each other, I learned how to stand up for myself, and how to make a rational point despite my heated emotions. (As someone who’s accidentally started a career of standing up for what she believes in, I truly can’t express just how valuable that has been!)

Because you apologized to me when you felt you crossed a line, I learned to as well. I also learned that being a good person doesn’t mean being perfect. It means having enough integrity to admit when you are (again, inevitably) wrong, and having the guts to try to make things right.

Because you somehow figured out how to deal with all of this stuff and more, without knowing when, if, or how it might pay off, it did.

And because you always said I love you, no matter what, I learned to love myself. No matter what.

I love you, and I’m so grateful that you are the kind, thoughtful, patient people that you are. (And if my computer had feelings, I’m sure it would agree, too.)
—Joy