In a logical world, no parent would ever bury a child. In a fair world, we’d accept ourselves and others as flawed with love and in equal measure. In a kind world, we would see those flaws as beautiful.
I’m taking care of my mother, many states and miles and hours away from the Dude. Living in my old room, in my parent’s house, is strange and wonderful and nostalgic and messy. I’m confronted by old ghosts, but with the context and perspective of an adult. As parents, we say “what are you thinking?” but as a teen, I often ached with the same question.
So Dude, let me make it clear.
When I say, “I love you exactly the way you are,” I mean exactly that, even though you hear “but you could be better.”
When I say, “I know you’re doing the best that you can,” I mean that too. I’m not saying “but you could do better.”
When I say, “You can be anything you want to be,” I’m saying that I believe in you, not “so could you work on being that, okay?”
When I was young, so often I felt inadequate and alone. Now, I understand that my parents feel the same fierce love for me that I hold for you, and they always have, even if I couldn’t see it at the time.
Sometimes we say things we don’t mean. Sometimes we say things we do, but aren’t taken at face value.
So know this my Dude, my not-so-little man. I love you exactly the way you are. I know you’re doing the best you can. You can be anything you want to be. You are the marshmallows in the Lucky Charms that is my life. I can only write humor because you bring me such joy, and others find humor in my work because our experience is universal. You are perfectly imperfect, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, and when it seems like the world can’t deal with that, know for a fact that at least two people can’t deal without it, and we’ve got your back.
So put down your phone and get back to your homework. Just kidding. Sort of.