To a 7-Year-Old American Boy
By Faith Amenn (Barnard College Undergraduate)
I am your godmother, and that’s a title I’ve never taken lightly. I wasn’t sure that I could be trusted with your baptismal candle on the altar – as you get older, you’ll become more aware of my clumsiness, and as I get older, it’ll become less charming – but I knew that I would work harder than I ever had to prove that I could be trusted with you.
It’s this love for you that opened Microsoft Word tonight. It’s this love for you that guides my letter.
We share many things, bud. We’re excellent huggers, sticklers for detail, lovers of Harry Potter and the Mets – and we’re talkers. Great ones, if I do say so myself (and I do).
It’s a joy to hear you speak, not only because I can remember wondering what you’d sound like, but also because you say so many things worth hearing.
I’ve always felt that we were a perfect match. A cool, bespectacled duo.
But there’s one pretty noticeable difference between us: I am a girl. And you are a boy. Now, I know what you’re thinking, because it’s my job to know everything: “Yeah, Faith. I can see that.”
Sadly, though, the difference is more than what meets the eye. The difference truly lies in how we live and how we’re treated.
Every once in a while, even Queens can feel a little scary to me. It’s difficult to imagine villains in the home borough of superheroes like you and Peter Parker, but it happens. Sometimes I have to walk alone when you’re fast asleep – or just pretending to be asleep; I babysat you, so I know your secrets – and call my brothers for comfort.
And when I do, I’ve got to be as quick as the Flash; I’ve got to avoid every person who seems unfriendly. You might be disappointed to hear that many of those people are boys. Boys who aren’t as cool or as good as you. I’m disappointed, too. Because they could easily be better.
But one day you’ll realize that some people don’t want to be better. They want to be bitter. They will doubt and dislike me because – like our girl Hermione! – I raise my hand and do my research and don’t care all that much about my hair. They will wonder if I’m built to succeed. (You know when reporters talk about a pitcher’s “stuff”? They’ll wonder if I have that, too.)
It hurts to know that there are things in me that bring out the worst in others. But I’m hoping that those same things bring out the best in you. And that’s why I’m telling you all of this.
Because I believe in you, even when I question the world around me. I believe in your hugs. I believe in your love of science and baseball stats. I believe in the way you say my name.
I believe in both your mind and your heart, and I believe that they’re equally important.
I want the man you become to be influenced by the boy you are. I want the love you show me to inspire a love for women you’ll never know – not because you think that it’s mandatory, but because you think that it’s just. Not because they’re like someone you love, but because they’re someone, period.
This means something to me. And I hope that it’ll mean something to you – we need all the unconditional, unselfish goodness we can get.
I love you, kiddo. (And as your godmother, I should probably give a shout-out to Jesus, too. Hey Jesus! I heard your dad blessed us? Can you give us a hand down here?)