A New Yorker’s Response To ‘A Mother’s Note To Her Daughter’

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139853426I read a piece this morning on Huffpost Parents, What I Hope I Never Teach You: A Letter To My Daughter. In it, a mother talks about how much she loves that her daughter interacts with everyone they see. I couldn’t help but filter it through my own experience with raising young children in the city. My letter would look so much different:

Dear Beautiful Girl,

You’ll find him on the train. You’ll lock eyes and as you are too young to recognize a sociopath, you won’t look away. I’ll be mumbling Crap! under my breath because now he’s moving towards us and I’m going to have to think of a way to keep his black fingernails from touching your coat. No luck. Now I have to stop at CVS for bleach.

You yell. You echo your tiny little screams across the Q train. You wave your chubby arms until the lady who has two empty seats around her in all directions sees you. Your little brain can’t concept the significance of vacant seats on a rush hour train. You win her over, and I have to spend the rest of the ride hoping she doesn’t come near us.

She isn’t the first or the last. The next door neighbor who steals our mail, the drunk guy on the sidewalk who is now following us, the creepy corner store guy who I am certain has a makeshift gravesite under his store – I can’t warn you about all of these people yet. You do not have the power of speech or comprehension.

No one has taught you the rules. We never lock eyes with people on the train. Ever. We don’t smile at the man yelling obscenities on the corner. We never admit to being a voter in this county. We always buy candy off kids on the train and give money to subway buskers.

There are so many things I can’t wait to teach you. You will learn how to sidestep someone creepy on the subway platform without falling on the tracks and how to avoid talking to a cabby for your entire trip. And when anyone asks how you became so proficient with avoiding allowing people into your personal space on Amtrak, your answer will always be “my mom.”

You’re welcome.

(photo: Getty Images)