You turned twelve a week ago, and I haven’t had the time to write a letter to you to document this year of your life. You are growing up, but you should understand, I am growing up too, and so is my long list of duties and responsibilities. Late, but worth the wait I hope, here are twelve little things I want to share on your twelfth birthday..
I don’t print dollars, and mom doesn’t stand for “made of money”. Of course I pamper you, and buy you every little beautiful thing I see in the magazines, but that doesn’t mean you are entitled to it. Learn to appreciate it.
Last Sunday morning you crawled up in my bed for cuddle time, and elbowed me accidentally. Trust me, I saw stars, and I didn’t know what hit me. I think it’s time we moved past the memories of a helpless infant that locked her eyes with me for a brief moment before they transferred her to the NICU.
Ears! They are not just to stick blue tooth and listen to call me maybe. They connect to the other parts of your body, and they should be used to listen. Not just hear. There is sound around you, of your parents, of your sibling, of your friends and of your teachers. Don’t drown us out like a white noise. Listen to us.
Help! The four letter word that you need to use is “help”. It’s OK, you can ask us to guide you, you can ask us to assist you. I know you are a student tutor now, and you are capable of taking care of yourself, but as you grow, so do expectations. Don’t limit yourself to things you can take care of yourself. We are here, to take care of you when needed.
Mirror! Forget the mirror on the back of your bedroom door, and trust my eyes. You are beautiful just the way you are. Even your Direction boy says that. See yourself through my eyes- I know when you are beautiful and when the ugliness creeps in. The smile that comes from the heart, and the sparkle in the eyes that are lit up with love make you beautiful, not your hair or your clothes. They can only add to who you are, not make you what you want to be.
Come back to me, anytime, anywhere. You are taking baby steps, walking into the world without my guidance, but the world is not a beautiful place always. Stuff happens. I will tell you today, I will remind you tomorrow, and I think I talked about the same last night, we are here for you, always. Whatever it is, we will help fix it, or we will fix you.
You tell me about the good Indian girls that have boyfriends in High School and don’t tell their parents about it. I hope you don’t turn out to be a good Indian girl. I need to know the truth, of where you are, and what you are doing at any given time. I am not the kind who will live in a bubble that it won’t happen in our family. So trust me, tell me everything about everyone around you.
You tell me that I signed up for parenting too soon, and every little event we attend is a reminder that things happened too soon for us. But trust me, we have everything under control. I don’t miss driving a luxury car when I listen to you play my favorite Goldberg variation. My trade off is justified, and don’t ever live in the guilt that you redefined dreams and goals. Learn from it, know that your plan can be perfect, but always have a plan b for everything in life.
Again, I repeat, I only care about you, and not your friend, and not your friend’s friend. I don’t care who dyed their hair with Kool Aid, who doused it in beer to highlight, and who uses mascara. Tell me if you want to dye your hair, and I will approve or disapprove of it. Tell me you want to get a piercing, we will talk. You are the center of my universe, and my problem, not people associated with you.
Thank you for the proud moment at Disney. Your dad told the man who dispensed Fastpass about your performance, and the woman on the Boudini counter and Ghirardelli counter know about it too. Excelling in academics or arts is nothing new in the family, but you are the first one to sing, and of course the first one to sing at Disney. Thousands of schools from all over the country sent their video auditions and only a few were selected. This was your school’s second outing. Take pride in those moments, and don’t think it’s not special because four of your other friends did it.
Don’t feel entitled to anything just because you are exposed to a lifestyle, a community like this. Know about Malala, and know that education is not a right for everyone. Know about the Mideast, and know that the worst thing that happened in the world today isn’t that accident near Trader Joes. Know about pro-choice, pro-life and a thousand other options in between, and know that you don’t have to take my stance on everything. Appreciate the rights, and the privileges, and use them wisely, and know that life is grander than what you know about it already.
The list of do’s and don’ts will continue forever. You will be a teenager soon. You will pretend to be someone you are not, and you will follow your friends and tell me I don’t know anything about what you go through. One last thing I want to remember is, your parents will always know what you are going through, because long ago they were the same misunderstood brats. Teenage is not a disease, or a special condition, and it can be treated with love and understanding. Fortunately for you, we already have the prescription. Just use as needed and be happy.
Until next year, lets’ continue the carefully coordinated and orchestrated mundane life and hope that our biggest problems are the grades the teacher hasn’t corrected yet.
Mom and Dad
Blast from the past: