Saturday, April 23, 2011

Prayer for a Son

Tina Fey's hilarious and lovely "Prayer for a Daughter" has been kicking around the internet for a few weeks, so I thought I'd patch one together for a son. Specifically, mine. Here's hoping I landed on the side of 'tribute,' rather than 'rip-off.'

First, Lord: no contact sports. Though you did not deign to make me a morning person, it is not the 5am practice that I fear, but the risk of damage to his beautiful brain, because he is clearly a genius, and such potential would be a shameful thing to waste. I'll do my part to push him towards board games and Tolkein, if You'll do the rest. Just do whatever You did with me. 

Let him be confident, but not cocky, for it is a swollen head that draws contempt despite talent, and fails to see the strengths of others.

When challenges are issued in bars, let him know his limits and bow out, or at least pass out, before he pummels his liver or his pride by falling asleep under a urinal and being found the next morning by the cleaning crew. Actually, forget his pride if that's what it takes to teach the little fool a lesson. 

Guide him, protect him from stupid ideas like running with bulls, jumping out of planes, throwing himself off the edges of cliffs to land in bodies of water that are deceptively shallow, skiing out of bounds, swimming with sharks, playing with things that explode, donning a crotch harness and dumb little shoes to scramble up rock faces that are not meant to be scaled by anything but a mountain goat, ingesting food from street vendors in foreign countries and parts of downtown, joining expeditions to climb mountains that are so treacherous that they require the assistance of short, stocky locals who carry equipment and shake their heads at danger-seeking westerners, or being lured by the siren song of interest-free loans and no-money-down purchases. O Lord, when he does so choose to test his invincibility, mix me a shot of whatever it is that You drink when You're up there watching us get up to no good down here. This I pray. 

Lead him not into a never-ending PhD of Sociology, but do foster in him a thirst for knowledge and education, be it at a university, an internship, an apprenticeship, or other source of expertise. Give him the luxury of time and security to pursue said education, and not squander more than one semester on binge drinking and pranks. When he emerges from his training with fresh ideas and optimism, let him not become jaded, but find fulfilling work, and maintain a drive to become very good at his chosen profession, for it is in success that we find joy, hard work that we take pride, and hope that we make lasting change. It would also be great if he could support himself and put a little something away for his future, if it is not too much to ask of Your Beatificness.

Hear me, Lord, if he is bullied, grant me the grace to not drag those little shits home to their mothers demanding discipline and apologies, but focus my attention instead on my own son that I may fortify him with my love and overwhelming pride, as well as the knowledge that he is better than those insignificant little asses who will always be mean because they are unhappy. Let him not hesitate come to me with his troubles, so that I may assure him that things will get better, and that he is valuable, precious, and not deserving of such pain. (However, in Your Overwhelming Generosity, I trust that You will not begrudge me brief fantasies of the dragging and demanding and comeuppance for said little shits.)

Though he must feel the sharp sting of love unrequited, let him heal from those wounds with no lasting scars, especially not in the form of eternally-regretted tattoos. Dear Lord, this I pray. 

Let him understand that he is lucky, and foster empathy for those who are not so fortunate, that he may lessen burdens by taking up fights that are not necessarily his own. In Your Infinite Wisdom, please understand: I am not talking about storming oil tankers or moving to Tibet, for BP is formidable and China is unmoving, and surely there are worthwhile causes within a timezone of his mother, she who has absorbed the entire canon of Raffi, and sings Joshua Giraffe repeatedly at his sign language request of "more? moremoremoremore? more?"

May his childhood be long and spoiler-free, so he may have many years to believe in the magical powers of wondrous characters like the easter bunny, the tooth fairy, and me. Yes, knowledge is power, but wonder is invaluable, and there will be plenty of time for hard facts and controlled experiments as the years go by. O Lord, let him not be smarter than us until he is wise enough to navigate the treacherous waters of The Internet without the lifeboat of his father's watchful paranoia and sneaky nanny programs. 35 is probably a good target age for this one. Maybe 40. 

If one day, he should take on fatherhood, grant him solid arms for rocking, endurance for long nights, and a strong stomach for that first blueberry diaper. As he stares in terrified wonder at this little piece of amazingness that is his to cherish and protect, let him save a little wonder to consider that his father and I felt that same fierce love for him all those years ago, and briefly ponder how he could ever express the gratitude that he is feeling. But he won't have to. I'll just know, because I'm pretty sure my mother said this same prayer as she was holding me, and it's clear that You came through for her.



  1. why you gotta make me teary eyed in the morning! good job

  2. This is absolutely beautiful. Especially the bit about the little shits... sniff, sniff. I totally have the same fantasy. I'm sure this will (largely) work out for him, if not due to a deity, then at least due to awesome parents. And, if he's anything like me, he'll become a member of Greenpeace and yearn to bust little giraffes out of the zoo, while chanting "Nothing can go wrong-o, I am in the Congo." More! Moremoremore!

  3. Shana - you've already told me that you're going to start a blog, but Leslie - what's stopping you? And none of this secret blog crap. In my experience, those peter out, because you don't have anyone breathing down your neck and asking you where the next post is. I'm still waiting to hear about Jean's superfast dramatic entrance....