An Open Letter to My Children: You're Not That Great

Mother and blogger Jami Amerine of Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors discusses the dangers of coddling children.


I love you each.

You're funny. And talented. But as I sit in this dance recital I am holding a foster baby that is in our home for the weekend and I am witnessing an American atrocity that I want you to remember.

And it is not a drug-addicted baby.

In the row ahead of me a family has taken hot pink duct tape and marked off 22 seats. We were specifically told not to do this at the informational meeting. Please, always follow the rules. They count off "new-naw, pawpaw, auntie Laurie, auntie Bitsy, Carl-baby, daddy, bubba, Unkie-Mikie, hankie . . . " These nicknames, while odd are also not the issue, but don't nickname me when I am old. It's getting embarrassing. The two woman marking off seats are oblivious to everyone around them. "Unkie-Mikie" just entered the auditorium with an enormous balloon bouquet. I am able to quickly conclude that they are the family of the infamous Kkyylliiee on page 3 of the recital program. She has a full page ad. She's 5. The dead giveaway is that all of them have on pink t-shirts that say "we hope you dance Kkyylliiee." Don't ruin songs for people by making silly t-shirts with the lyrics. The ad has Kkyylliiee in her recital costume in a professional portrait for the occasion. I am over the moon to see this chubby kindergartener perform, if only I could see over the balloons — and the camera equipment they are now setting up. Obviously Kkyylliiee must be quite talented and very special because she needed two of every letter to spell her name. As someone whose name has been missing an "e" in my spelling her entire life I covet her vowels. Dear Mary, John, Luke, Sophie, Sam, and any others we may have the privilege of raising, you will love your children like nothing you can fathom. Name them wisely — otherwise they will never have a personalized pencil from the museum gift shops on field trips.

Kkyylliiee enters with another "Auntie" and two suitcases so that "Maw-Maw" can do her makeup. "Nee-naw" brings McDonald's for the whole clan. I can't help but remember the sign clearly stated outside "NO FOOD OR DRINK." Again I say — just follow the rules. Yes, they apply to you.

I can't stop watching the insanity and as I compose this in my head — I make a mental note to myself to write this to you . . . My dear Americanized children, you aren't above the rules and you aren't that great . . . I am not sorry if you felt less than your peers because I forgot to turn in the form for you to be highlighted in a program.

As much as it hurts me — feel less than. Esteem not yourself. Feel lonely. Feel unworthy. Feel unaccomplished. Feel small. Feel lost. Feel broken.

Feel least.

For if you believe you are greater than, your father and I have failed miserably. Among the broken you will find Christ. My prayer for you is that you see Him everywhere. There's nowhere to go but down if we as a society continue to treat mediocrity as mighty. If you are never uncomfortable, weary, left out and unpraised how will you recognize the desolate? And if you are never desolate how will you recognize how much you need a Savior?

I will continue to put pictures of you on Facebook and brag about you. I will still cut the crust off your sandwiches — and bring you Sonic slushes for no reason. It is my mommy nature — but I pray I never make you feel you are more than those around you. My prayer for you is that you came to serve, not be served. I may not like the way it wears on you, but it's not about you.

Ah, and most importantly I pray you are wise enough to recognize the broken among the esteemed. We well meaning and proud parents have created the monsters. You have to see the tragedy of the poor and the crack addicted; the baby who may never have a recital portrait taken or her name in lights. And it is sad. But it is also sad to learn too late you aren't that great.

The last shall be first — the first shall be last.

All this to be said . . . Sophie, I forgot flowers for you after the recital. You did a really good job, but don't quit school to pursue a career in dance, baby girl. I wasn't lying to any of you when I said I was proud of your C- paper. If you tried — if you cared and that is how you were graded — bravo. Work hard, be willing to get dirty, give away your lunch or your last dollar, sit with the lonely, stand up for injustice, follow the rules, walk through the fire . . . you're doing just fine.

Love, Mom