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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

March 2015



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Two Cents, Self Portrait

“I Promise”—Words to my Daughter upon her Graduation from High School

1993NewDadI don’t have a lot to give you as you “commence” the next stage of your life, but I’ve never broken a promise to you and I don’t intend to now. So I’ll give you these promises that you can take with you as you leave home.

I’ve always loved our conversations in the car, over lunch, and just before you go to bed. Whether we were driving to the rink, school, rehearsal, or anyplace else, it always seemed we had tons to discuss. We’ve hatched plots (either literal or for novels), reported on events, discussed music and school, and just laughed at jokes.


1994TractorDadSo I want you to know that I will always listen to you. You can talk to me anytime, no matter where I am. You can tell me about things that are so inconsequential you almost forget them and so important to you that you can’t help but share. If I become deaf (or more deaf), or my mind becomes so addled that I don’t hear, or if I have to turn on my TMI filters, I will still listen with my heart.

Which makes the second promise logical: I will pay for your cellphone service while you are in college. Well, it’s on the family plan. You shouldn’t have to worry about whether you can make a call or send a text message to a friend or family member. If you exceed your minutes, you’ll have to reimburse me, but we’ve got those numbers so high now that you shouldn’t have to worry about them.

2003ViolinistNaturally, I expect that you’ll use your phone occasionally to call or text us and let us know how you are doing. The fact that you are leaving home for college doesn’t really translate to out of sight/out of mind. We’re still interested in you and even if we’re not watching the clock to see if you get home by midnight, we’d like to know that you are safe and we’d like to think we still know what’s going on in your life—even if you don’t tell us everything.

Of course, wanting to know about your life means I promise not interfere with your life. Oh, I’ve got plenty of advice for you. Ask me anything! But I won’t try to make your decisions for you or manipulate you into making a decision that I want you to make. You’ve learned how to make good choices—sometimes the hard way. I respect your decisions for your life. It is your life. That doesn’t mean I don’t care, but that I won’t try to make you into Mini-Me. I won’t try to correct the mistakes I made in my life by changing yours. I’ve given you my example, for good and bad. Evaluate it and make your decisions.

That wouldn’t be much good if I disapproved of everything you do. So, I promise not to judge you. There are decisions you make that will be different than what I would do. But gee whiz! I’m 43 years older than you. If I’d made 61-year-old decisions when I was 18, I would probably have had a much different but not necessarily better life than I did. I might be richer than I am today, but I can’t imagine being happier. Life doesn’t need to be full of “I shouldas.” There is no one who can be you like you can.

2007TrainMaybe it’s a down-side, but all that also means that I promise not to rescue you. That might be the hardest promise to keep of all. It doesn’t mean you can never come home. It doesn’t mean that I won’t help you out if I can. But we can’t take responsibility for each other. Now if you are in a burning building or have been kidnapped by terrorists, you’d better believe that I’ll do everything in my power to get you out. But I’m no Liam Neesan. If I tried to track you across Europe, killing all who hurt or threatened to hurt you, it (and I) would be short-lived. Stay safe. Take advantage of friends and family ties as much as you can, but then rescue yourself.

I promise that I will always love you. There has never been a condition placed on my love and there never will be. I know that it is possible (heaven forbid!) for you to do things that would break my heart. It is possible that I might become so senile that I don’t even recognize you when you enter the room. It is even possible that I simply don’t live up to your expectations of me as your father.






I will lock today in my heart forever, and if we ever reach one of those points, I will still hold it dear and love the incredible young woman you are today. I will love all that you have been and all that you might still become. I will love what you have achieved, your talent, your ability to make and keep friends, your humor, your laughter, your spirit of adventure, your determination, your willingness to take risks and to push beyond your comfort zone. I will love your vulnerability, your sense of caring, your concern for the world, and your love of life.

I will always be your father, and I will always love you.


*sniff* awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww
Aww, beautiful words. Your daughter is so lucky to have you as a father!