Today on my 47th birthday I am going to say thanks to Mom and Dad for raising me right (to the extent anyone could have, anyway).
Things I got from Mom:
* My determination to believe, sometimes in the face of the evidence, that people are basically good and that we are all made of the same stuff — put another way, that it is wrong to blame people for their bad circumstances when external forces are almost certainly to blame
* My “What, me worry?” optimism
* My love of animals
* My belief that I can do more or less anything if I put my mind to it
Things I got from Dad:
* My love of music and my musical ability (although I think Mom may actually have a better ear). Some kids get praised for throwing a ball — I didn’t even have a ball, I got praised for singing on pitch. (n.b. if you want your kid to know how to throw a ball, you should get him one and throw it with him.)
* My inclination, tamed by two years of beatings in graduate school but still present, to use five syllables when one would do. Put another way, my love for words and playing with words and everything wonderful about language.
* My intolerance for bad music and bad taste in general. This of course flies in the face of Mom’s proletarianism, which makes for an interesting internal tension.
* My belief that I can do more or less anything if I put my mind to it Mom and Dad fought through some rough years bringing us up, but no matter what they put looking after us first, perhaps to a fault (my memory on this is fuzzy, but I’m fairly certain that Dad, after a long string of defeats, finally lost his partnership at the large lawfirm he was at because he took two weeks off to direct the music for my junior-high-school production of The Mikado, starring me.) I’m only now beginning to really appreciate how difficult that business of putting your kids first can be, as I watch parents around me go through the same traumas Mom and Dad did.
Anyway: Thanks, Mom and Dad. I am a lucky, lucky boy.