We tried to keep our traumas hidden from you while protecting you from similar dangers. We wanted to wait until you started a family, if you so choose that, to tell you so that you could protect your kids
We didn’t want you to know so early in life how awful the world can be.
We decided to tell you before our first in-patient so that you could understand us and so that you could get support for you
We tried to keep the world at bay because at some point in your 20s or 30s, you’ll have little protection from it. Let you enjoy some of your life
But our living together, your going to school, our being part of a neighborhood and communities were enough exposure that your curiosity started to bring home what we sought to keep out
Your self-advocacy, value for inclusivity, and intolerance for oppression quickly—and awkwardly, on our part—made you the teacher and us the student
You have helped us question basic tenets of parenting. You helped us question our values, strengthen them, and try to change
You helped open our eyes that young people are full people with the same feelings and needs as adults. Based on their vulnerability, young people require special care and attention. Young people are not property of their caregivers, not slaves or servants. They are whole humans that are required to trust and attach
Our own Littles agree with you but didn’t know how to treat you until you challenged all of us
We changed pretty late in raising you. And we realize the impression of our mistakes is deep
Quarantine made our home your classroom, literally, and it became the place to teach us and for us to practice and make mistakes
Social unrest—police murdering people of color—shocked you into awareness of our white privilege. And you taught and continue to teach us all what these concepts mean, how to use empathy, how to be anti-racist.
Quarantine and social unrest brought the whole world crashing into us. Quarantine robbed you of childhood. You lost the trips abs schooling and friend experiences and life experiences you had sought and planned for. Yes, there are lessons in that. But fuck lessons! You feel the losses.
Social unrest is the result of our blind insulation, our white privilege.
We will never forget that conversation where you begged through tears to be allowed to protest in person against the murder and oppression of Black people in our community and elsewhere. Your other parent wanted to protect you from a brand new virus that was sickening, maiming, and killing people. We knew little about the virus
But you said it was privilege that allowed parents to prohibit you from protesting. You asked through tears why your life was more valuable than a black life. You understood Black Lives Matter.
The two of us wound up protesting together, outside, in masks, with handmade signs. Yours said, “I can’t breathe.” We were scared of Covid and scared of retribution for protesting just days after George Floyd was murdered just five miles from our home but a world away from our predominantly white, insulated community.
You saw one of your best friends at the protest, a friend whose race had not previously factored into your relationship.
Your mental health was crushed by this pandemic. And we got you support. It never seems like enough support, or the right support. And we know there’s no quick fix
Still, you insist on leaving us next week. You said if you don’t leave now, you fear you never will. You planned this before pandemic. You are not ready to leave, in our flawed estimation. But how can you ever be? Maybe you must leave in order to learn all you need to survive away from us
We both know our anger earlier in your life traumatized you—that we traumatized you. We talk about it with one another and we don’t try to minimize it even though we’re ashamed, regretful and sad
So we’ll probably be better apart. We know that your need this space. We fear that you’ll realize we’re awful, inadequate—as we determined about our parents.
We won’t commit to outcomes. This adventure on which you embark needs no markers for success, yours or ours, needs no evaluation. It’s an open-ended adventure. We did give you two pieces of advice: attend every class and protect your personal safety. The rest will unfold
You are legally an adult today. World events brought it home sooner. We know you will teach your family, if you choose one, about the privilege or lacks thereof, earlier. We would have if we had known we were living as white supremacists. Now we know. Thanks to you.
We try to live more nonviolently. Thanks to you. We strengthened our values. Thanks to you. We are humbled by you. You are the one who accepts our differences the most.
We will try to support you from afar on your terms
Today you are a legal adult. Next week you move across the country. You have always been a full person
We love you