To my precious children,
As I write this letter we live in the house you grew up in, which is in a neighborhood of mostly young families and a few college kids. Usually its a quiet neighborhood, but this afternoon, the party next door is raging.
Some girls are bikini clad and sliding down a huge bounce house slide (you are all jealous), while the young men (mostly clothed) cheer for them. There is loud music, lots of yelling, kids walking in our yard, lots of drinking, and hopefully in several hours, lots of designated drivers and Uber rides.
Three of you are ignoring the shenanigans, while your fearless leader and oldest sister is channeling my quiet frustration. She’s pacing and saying things like, “I can’t take this anymore. They are being so loud.” I sincerely hope this is an indication of your future selves, but just in case you find yourselves being normal college kids in the future (which once again, I really hope you’ll be the nerdy ones hiding in the library and making straight A’s or baking cookies with your sweet roommates), here are some things to consider…
First of all. Don’t ever be in a situation in which you have less clothing on than your friends. This will lead only to humiliation, and if it doesn’t lead to humiliation, you need to think of my face in your head, you should be embarrassed. Keep your clothes on, unless you’re all swimming, then keep your suits on. Here’s a rule. In most cases, if a man is cheering for you and most of your skin is exposed, while his isn’t, you have been objectified.
Sweet daughters, I hope and pray that you know how beautiful you are (inside and out). I hope you know that and nothing can shake it. I hope you have enough confidence to wear clothing that flatters your body but doesn’t expose too much to random people. I hope you look in the mirror and realize that you are just gorgeous. Your sexuality is a part of you, and good part of you (a part of you I’d prefer to not think about…ever), but don’t give it away for free. Respect and love are not achieved with your sexuality, but rather with your mind and your confidence and likely your beauty. Your sexuality comes in later, once you have the love, not before. Please remember this.
My precious boy, I hope that you will be a young man who esteems women. You will no doubt, be taught by society that objectifying women is ok. For real. This is still a huge problem in 2016 and it probably will still be when you read this. Issues like this are so sticky and hard to nail down. On the one hand we as women, want to be able to celebrate who we are physically. We want to feel beautiful and confident in that. But on the other, it’s so easy for that celebration to be one-sided. And that is when the trouble starts. When enjoyment is not a two way street, be very wary. Be the man who loves your friends who are girls, enough to respect them for who they are and not only what they look like. Don’t be that guy who cheers for girls in bikinis while you have your clothes on. Don’t be that guy. Put your swim trunks on and take a turn on the bounce house slide, too!
Kiddos, your dad treated me with so much respect when he met me. He told me how beautiful he thought I was but he also became my dear friend. He never ever once tried to take advantage of me. I always knew that he respected my body and my mind, and I his. Don’t settle for less, my little people.
To all of you, I hope that you are confident enough in yourself to have as much fun sober as you would have drunk. I hope you learn that while alcohol may taste good, it can also ruin your life if you let it control you. Find that balance. Eat, drink, and be merry. But don’t eat, drink, and be trashed. It’s just not even fun. For real. And I’m not saying that as your super conservative boring nerdy mom. I’m saying that because I used to be in college, too, and singing 1980s hairband songs into a microphone that is really just your hand is actually pretty lame. (That only happened one time, dad :):)).
Finally, um. Don’t walk in other peoples’ yards. That’s just rude. Be a respectful young adult, and maybe your friends will follow your good example.
I love you all to pieces and am pretty sure you are the four coolest kids in all the world.
P.S. Also, wear sunscreen. You won’t have perfect elastic skin forever. Pale is the new tan. Really.