Dear Concerned Parent,

I got off the phone with you about two hours ago and, so far, you have managed to turn my quiet, happy world a bit on its corner for which I am rather ungrateful.

The day the Girl came home from the hospital.

The day the Girl came home from the hospital.

My daughter’s birthday is this Thursday and, as a rule, we do celebrate.  But our celebrations are a bit muted given that my husband is hugely introverted and having more than four people in the house (including him) can cause him to have terrible anxiety attacks.  To the point that birthday parties for himself or other people make him a grump for a month in advance.

If you think I’m exaggerating, I haven’t had a “birthday party” in a decade.  I think.  I can’t remember.

I deliberately schedule people coming to the house to visit with the kids or me after my husband leaves.  So he won’t get stressed. Because his job is stressful enough.

I understand, Concerned Parent, that you are new to the area and that you are trying to look out for the best interest of your daughter.  But being told that you want to meet “both parents” or “the parent who will be present” in addition to seeing where your “daughter is going to sleep” did not sit well with me.

I’m not used to performing for people in my own home to make them like me for the sake of my daughter.  I understand that you just moved here and you don’t know anyone.

The Girl's first smile...she was laughing at her brother.

The Girl’s first smile…she was laughing at her brother.

But I don’t know you either.  And you are coming to the sanctity and privacy of my home to scrutinize and judge my husband and me.

And that kind of pisses me off.  And because I’m a bit pissed off over something that really might not be that big of a deal, I get even more pissed off because I don’t like getting pissed off.

I don’t know why I have to present to you all my most wonderful qualities.  Have you ever heard of psychopaths?  I highly recommend reading Chapter 40 of Dave Cullen’s Columbine.  It is quite an education.  Of course, in writing this, I might be making not only you but a whole stack of other people uncomfortable.

But if you peel back the layers of this blog and read the post I wrote just before this one, then you would see the integrity of my heart which is another reason why I am a bit miffed at you.

My heart is in the right place and, if you spent any time with my daughter, I think you would see the reflections and shadows of my choice to be good and to do good in my daughter’s words and actions.  There’s a reason she was asked to be an ambassador and help new students acclimate to the new school.  There’s a reason she was invited to help with the local Special Olympics.  It’s not because she’s popular.  Because, over the weekend, my beautiful, wonderful daughter told me that she didn’t think she was popular.  In fact, she thinks she’s unpopular.

The Girl's first birthday cake...the morning after her birthday.  Because she fell asleep halfway into her first birthday party.

The Girl’s first birthday cake…the morning after her birthday. Because she fell asleep halfway into her first birthday party.

So this birthday party, unbeknownst to you, is my daughter’s first birthday party that involves having friends her age coming to the house and spending the night.  I know that you have no idea about this.  I completely understand that you are ignorant of the nuances of my life.

And what you also don’t know is that my daughter invited three people. Three.  No more.  Three.  One girl immediately said yes.  One girl said that she was going to beg her parents because she was currently grounded.  And then your daughter said she didn’t know because you didn’t know me and apparently you didn’t care about birthday parties because of something about a pool.

I don’t know if I heard a mistranslation of what you said or what you intended to say.  Don’t care….because…

Dammit, do you know how crushed my daughter was when, last week, she learned through her friend that you were pretty much saying that her friend, your daughter, would likely not be allowed to come to my daughter’s birthday party even if you do meet my husband and me?  My daughter, who has set up menus, has planned out the evening’s events, who has spent hours deciding on what type of birthday cake she wants, was so crushed that she wanted to cancel everything.

The Girl charming Dave Eggers at the National Book Festival.

The Girl charming Dave Eggers at the National Book Festival.

Because you weren’t even willing to meet me last week.

You put my daughter through an emotional wormhole because of your anxiety over being new and not knowing the area or me.  So your immediate suspicion and distrust has thrown my wonderful daughter who isn’t even out of elementary school through worlds and worlds of self-doubt.

She has an amazing name.  It starts with an almost guttural sound and then softens into silken syllables that roll off the tongue and transform what would sound like a harsh name into something like a lullaby.  Her name is a bit of a private joke between my husband and me, but a woman whom I love and highly respect helped name my daughter.  My daughter has met high ranking military officials who were so impressed by her that they called her “Power Princess.”  She is both feminine and tomboyish.  She will alternate between playing with her Ever After High dolls one moment and then talking about building a campfire on our mountain the next.

She has fears.  She has anxieties.  She has doubts that are stacked up against her because she is slightly chubby and has short hair that has caused young children to think she is a boy.

The Girl and I in Florida

The Girl and I in Florida

She wears mis-matching socks because that is her style.  She wears clashing colors and clashing patterns and I let her because she has her own sense of style and I can’t help but respect the fact that she is a daring young woman.

This evening, I picked up the Girl at Girl Scouts and told her about your decision to come over and make sure that all is to your liking.  And the Girl understood that no matter how well we behave and clean up the house and make everything neat and pretty doesn’t mean that we will pass your scrutiny.

And she started to cry.

And when her brief round of tears was spent, she went through litmus test anxiety…no matter what I said, she was snapping with frustration, doing loud sighs to settle her stomach.

My daughter’s birthday is on Thursday and I invited her to pick her favorite restaurant to go out to eat.  She was so distressed she said that she didn’t want to eat anything that might upset her stomach.

The Girl meeting Merida who is nowhere as brave as my daughter.

The Girl meeting Merida who is nowhere as brave as my daughter.

So, when you arrive tomorrow and I smile pretty to you and be all nice and welcoming, just know that you have made my daughter doubt everything about herself.  You made my daughter question whether or not we are even worthy to have your daughter in our home.

But what you don’t know is that my incredible daughter is a woman of compassion, generosity, selflessness, love, kindness, and grace.  She once philosophized that Christmas was an unfair holiday because people always demanded gifts of Santa Claus but they never gave him anything except cookies.  And she didn’t think that was fair and insisted that we buy and present Santa with a gift.

My daughter begs me to give her money so she can put it in the Salvation Army pail.  And then she exuberantly rings the bell to call others to come and donate as well.

She guided my principal and my beloved colleague to their seats at Baccalaureate last year, making sure they were comfortable.

She has insisted that we donate to food banks.  She made sure we donated to a homeless shelter when we were in DC.

Maybe the question that should be raised is whether or not you are worthy to meet my daughter.

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