Kids A and W,
First off, I’m sorry I still think of you as kids. At 16 and 17, going into your junior and senior years in high school in September, you’re not anymore. I remember when I was that age, soooo many of my daily struggles were to be treated like I was a real person, and so I promise you that I’m going to do my best to remember to treat you like real people, because you’re not children anymore. That doesn’t mean I won’t still try to give you advice or check in on you–that’s a siblings thing for life. I am always going to care about you (even if we go weeks without speaking sometimes), and I’m never going to stop acting on that caring–that’s a promise (please don’t see it as a threat), but I will try to be less patronizing/seeming like I’m on a high horse.
Now, I’m going to be honest: I’m worried about you. I have this vague sense of danger whenever I think about you, like something is on the verge of or in the process of going horribly wrong. Part of that worry I can address to you both simultaneously: college is right around the corner, you guys. I know college is the last thing you guys like to listen to me talk about because I raised the bar to this ridiculously high level, but fact: I don’t give a fuck if you guys don’t go to schools like Princeton. Neither does anyone else in our family. I am an exception, we all know that. I don’t care if school isn’t your thing like school is my thing. I don’t care if you don’t want to go to graduate school. I don’t care if you want to major in something that will turn directly into a job and then do that for the rest of your life. I just need you to understand that you have to go to college to make it in this world. Hell, in this economy, even going to college can’t secure anything, but you’re damn sure not going to get anywhere without it. And, another fact, just in case you somehow weren’t aware, our family does not have the money to pay for you to go to college. If you don’t qualify for scholarships, you’re going to be either a) unable to afford school at all and wind up at community college, b) in debt up to your eyeballs for the rest of ever, or c) some unfortunate combination of both. I don’t want to see that happen to you, but you are the only people in any position to prevent that, and I need you to see that. I don’t know what’s going to happen to you if you don’t see that. It terrifies me. You both seem to be so oblivious to this process and the fact that you’re running out of time, and that scares me.
Okay, now for the separate parts: A, I’m entirely uncomfortable with this boyfriend of yours and the fact that our mother doesn’t know about him. I’m entirely uncomfortable with the fact that he wakes you up out of your slumber to talk on the phone at damn near three in the morning. I’m vaguely uncomfortable with the fact that he’s up then–what has he been doing? Mostly, I just want to meet him, or at the very least for our mother to meet him. I feel like you’re hiding him and this relationship and that worries me to my core. I also want you to know, however, that I’ve thought long and hard about this, and I’m not going to rat you out. But I’m not ratting you out on one condition: I want you to know that you can come to me and talk to me about things, things that have to deal with him or anything. You seem to think I’m prudish and boring sometimes, but I have more experience with these sorts of things than you’d probably expect. I don’t want you to feel like you’re alone in our family. I remember those days.
W, I want to know what’s going on with you and school. Well, okay, school is actually probably a symptom of a larger issue and not the issue itself. What’s the issue itself? My mind instantly jumps to these hoodlum friends of yours. I hate saying that, but it’s true. The vast majority of them are just no damn good. Whether or not you recognize that is not the issue I want to dwell on right now, though…what I want to dwell on is the fact that you don’t have to be just like them to be their friends. If their friendship is
contingent on your conformity just based on you being the same as them, then you can do better than that. I remember when you liked school. I remember when you came home with the star-studded report cards and A was the one I had to worry about. But W, you FAILED a marking period in Honors Biology. Brought an F home to our mother’s house. I don’t know what I believe less, that you did this or that our mother barely punished you for it (in comparison to the punishments I used to get). But again, I don’t think the root issue here is that her standards have softened since I left the house; a) they were near-impossibly high to begin with and meeting them stressed me out every second of the day for 10ish years, but more importantly b) there again seems to be something larger here. I want you to talk to me, I want to know what’s wrong. I don’t want to call this acting out, but it’s a significant change and I want to know what is causing it.
Back together again: I’ve had enough of this you-two-against-me shit. We’ve been playing that game for about 14 years, it’s time to do something new. Especially now that you’re not a united force anymore regarding anything else. I would like us to try to have conversations like adults. I would like us to try to not let the smallest things blow up into the biggest arguments. It has recently come to my attention that other people, normal people, people I know and love and am convinced aren’t crazy, are friends with their siblings. I would like to give this a try.
But I guess first that would require feeling like I could ever, in a million years, say any of this to either of you. I don’t think there’s much hurt I could do to our relationships by trying, though…we barely interact when we’re not in the same physical space anyway. So, #declaration: I’m going to try. Maybe I’ll start small, maybe I won’t say it all at once, but I’m going to call you and try to talk. Please do me a favor and try to listen.
This is all to say I love you,