On finding out your kid wants to be a writer…

A mother reflects on the parenting moment. My children say things like, “I think I’ll probably be either an architect or a writer” and it’s everything I can do to not grab them by the shoulders, shake them like a red-headed baby, and scream, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY ARCHITECT!!!

On the other hand, I’ve taught them well to spot shitty people, so if they ever get near an workshop, things should sort themselves out pretty quickly.

I want to be a writer when I grow up.

I say, “That’s nice.” But I know there is nothing nice about being a writer. I hug her anyway and tell her I am proud of her no matter what, and she kisses me hard on my cheek the way my late grandmother used to kiss me—a long, vacuuming sniff. The way Grandma used to kiss me right before she’d tell me that I had overcooked the rice or that I hadn’t julienned the carrots thin enough. It is the kiss of Judas. “Like you, Mama. I want to be just like you.” I already want to cry. I want to tell her, Have I not taught you well?! I smile again and tuck her hair behind her ear, and I take the breath all mothers take when their child has made a declaration that deserves pause (“I kissed someone” or “I am taking a gap year” or “I am dating my boss”).

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