Friday, November 9, 2007

because it takes a village

An Open Letter to My Cousin AJ, Who, at the Age of Two, is Already an Emotionally Manipulative Alpha Girl
Dear AJ,
I called your dad yesterday to wish him a happy birthday. When the conversation turned to you, as it inevitably does, I sensed a weariness come over his voice, but a weariness tinged with gratitude, like that of a self-flagellating monk, gratuitously suffering in the service of the highest cause. He sounded, in short, like a man under the thumb of an emotionally manipulative alpha girl. To which I say to you: brava, Wunderkind, brava.
So permit me, if you will, to impart to you the following advice, which I wish someone had told me when I first discovered my near super-human powers of getting people to do what I want by attacking the soul rather than the body:
- You seem to have already mastered the art of offensive withholding: telling your dad you don't love him because he was at our grandfather's wake and therefore didn't tuck you in like he usually does, telling your mom you wanted to live with your Nana when she tried to make you take a nap. That's all well and good, but the next step is learning to parry using the Defensive I-Love-You. This can be applied pre-emptively, such as before you ask your dad (and later, significant other) for something far too expensive for what it actually is, like a purse dog or a private college education. It can also be applied retroactively, like after your dad bails you out for your first stimulant-related misdemeanor. Measured application of both techniques is the best way to keep your opponents off-balance and vulnerable.
- In the next 8 to 11 years, you will probably hit the slippery patch of pre-adolescent ice known as "the awkward phase." If you're LUCKY, this will involve gangliness and possibly braces and acne; if you're unlucky, it will involve fat. Either way, this will be a time to milk your dad for all he's worth; having more expensive things than everyone else is the only way to keep your iron grip of power during these few years between cuteness and hotness, so be prepared. (You may want to think about pushing your dad toward the private sector pretty soon.)
- It is ESSENTIAL that you peak sophomore year of college and NOT sophomore year of high school. Just trust me.
Yours Ever,

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