Dear Will: Anna Helmer considers what she’d wish she could say to her son should it no longer be possible to tell him anything

One of the more alarming things about sending The Productivity Impediment off to Kindergarten is that they want you to provide an emergency pack that stays at the school and includes: a change of clothes, a favorite stuffed animal, a picture of the family, a granola bar and a letter from parent(s) to child.

Although not so explicitly pointed out, it is obviously intended for use during one of those unimaginatively terribly situations that one hopes never happens, and probably won’t, but might.  Equally obviously, this letter has not been written. The rest of the school supplies list was instantly acquired.

Not this one. It seems hard and we are stalling.

He himself is unfazed and has cheerfully selected a stuffy and a couple of pictures featuring happy parents and child. The granola bar has been added but will be no comfort as he doesn’t seem to like them at all. We have tried all the varieties with no joy. I suppose if he’s hungry enough, he’ll snarf it down.

So that leaves the letter. What do you write to a 5 year old who can’t really read? “Dear Will, we love you. Always. Love your mommies”. Is that adequate? What if he never sees us again? Is this letter my chance to tell him all the things I want to teach him? Should it include tips on how to survive disaster? I have no experience with the type of disasters that would trigger the opening of this emergency pack, never mind surviving them as a primary school student. And let’s face it: he’ll lose the letter. We all know he will.

Enter the Wellness Almanac, of eternal internet life. To it I am submitting a list of things I intend to try teaching him in time for his adulthood. Should I perish before getting that done, here’s what I want him to know about survival, making it through rough times, and avoiding depression. For the record.

The main thing is this: everything gets better with time. At the beginning that’s hard to believe, but the pain lessens after days, months or years depending on how deep the hurt is. Laughter returns. That’s a fact.

Also, I do advise performing the hard work first, before slacking off. I always know what the hard work is because that will be the thing I least want to do. Identify that, then start it. At least start it. You’ll enjoy both the work and the play more. Also a fact.

Very important for him to know this: I will somehow be there, even if I am dead and gone. I will be proud, comforting, and happy. We will miss one another a lot, that’s for sure, but I think in time (see above) we’ll settle into it.

So I think that’s it. Doesn’t seem like very much after 46 years of living. I am sure I could flesh it out a little and totally would if I hadn’t made myself cry so much while typing.

If I live to 90 I might double my wisdom and add three or four things to this list. What on earth will they be and how will I learn them? Hmm. That’s a welcome diversion.

Thanks, Wellness Almanac. I’ll go write that letter now. It will be short and sweet. I am going with the assumption that he won’t ever need it and I’ll be around making him do chores and such, but if I’m not and he seems to be struggling, perhaps someone could send him this link.

Anna Helmer is secretly not very strict at all.

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