Dear Future Stella,
One of the reasons I started writing these letters to you was so that I could open up and tell you things that would not necessarily be appropriate to tell Current Stella. I was afraid that if I waited until she was mature enough to hear certain things then I would have forgotten and she would never know how I was feeling or the details of things that happened during her childhood. This is one of those letters where I need to get something off of my chest and it’s probably been killing me your whole life. Are you ready? Sit down or maybe float up in the air, whatever it is you guys do these days. It’s about your Dad.
I work on Saturdays. All things kids and boring always happen on Saturdays. I used to think it was great to work that day because I got out of most bridal and baby showers, and taking Current Stella to every birthday party was officially your Dad’s job. I loved that the concept of a “soccer mom” could never happen to me because you had to actually go to the games to be seen with a van full of orange slices, unflattering jeans and a baseball cap. Then I found out that most birthday parties serve booze to the adults and that soccer moms usually have a little extra zing in their Starbucks cups and I started to regret my schedule. Then Current Stella actually started playing sports and the other parents and your dad would send me snap shots of her playing and looking sporty. They would gush about how great she was doing. That’s when I started to really resent my Saturdays. Your dad would tell me about every poor kid that lacked athletic ability and I would beam with pride and relief that you were omitted from these stories of unfortunate genetics. When basketball started and your dad volunteered to help coach I seriously began to loathe Saturdays. I hated missing these moments of what could only be the dream team exuding dominance against their pint size opponents. I pictured your dad down on his knees, holding Current Stella by the shoulders and encouraging her to own that court and take that ball from whatever obnoxious brat was on the other team. “It’s yours” he would say. Current Stella would bare her teeth, grunt a couple of Neanderthal sounds and get out there and bulldoze the kid with the ball and return it for a 3 point shot. This is seriously what I pictured based on how your dad talks to his teams on television and how much he praised her skills. I would come home from work on Saturdays and he would tell me how she almost scored and that she did such a great job. I kept thinking how hard that basket must be to make because if he’s celebrating an “almost score” then it must really be tough. Then Current Stella would tell me how much fun she had and I just would fill up with sadness and deep regret. I would go to bed thinking about jobs I could get that didn’t require work on Saturdays. However, I knew if I couldn’t switch careers it would be a heartwarming tribute when Current Stella finally got inducted into some sort of athletic hall of fame. She won those games for me, she would say, because I could never be there.
Then I got shingles and I couldn’t go to work for a full week. Not really because I was contagious but it was really painful and it affected my dominant arm (which you kind of need to color hair). When Saturday rolled around I was healed enough to finally get to go to your game. I was so excited.
I have to tell you Sweetie, I don’t know which was more painful- my shingles or Current Stella’s attempt to play basketball. She is terrible. I mean, just horrendous. It pained me to tell her “good job” and “way to go, Kiddo” after watching her just flail around the court with her mind in a completely different universe. She keeps her hands up, I suppose to be ready to block the ball, at all times- even on offense. She’s always where the ball isn’t and it’s unclear if she even knows that half the kids out there are not on her team. Here’s the really painful part- because she’s only 5, they make it almost impossible to mess up and she still blows. The basket is basically her height, they are allowed to double dribble, travel, and they cant get the ball taken from them. They wear wristbands in different colors that match the color of the opponent they are supposed to defend. When you tell Current Stella to find her person she searches her own team frantically for the matching wristband- which she obviously never finds because that person is a)on the other team and b) on the other side of the court shooting point after point.
Every person on her team scored multiple times except for Current Stella. I am not sure if anything she did out there fit under your dad’s description of “almost scoring” but I hope not. The worst part was, her team technically won and so she left feeling proud and elated and because it’s frowned upon to tell a kindergartner how absolutely shitty they are, I had no choice but to congratulate her.
Here’s the thing, I didn’t really think you were going to be a professional basketball player, or any pro athlete for that matter. I just assumed that based on your Dad’s freakishly amazing coordination and his extreme high standards when it comes to honing one’s skills that despite all of it you would at least be like the Little Engine That Could. I also assumed that if for any reason your performance was sub par that he would be brutally honest about it and have you outside on the courts until your fingers were bleeding. I actually worried that his need to dominate and win would be too much pressure on you. Our team is about to play in the Super Bowl this Sunday and if Peyton Manning played like Current Stella did even for 5 seconds your Dad would physically go down to the stadium and swing punches at children and scream obscenities at elderly Bronco Fans. Gushing about how Peyton almost scored a touchdown would never cross his mind. He sees something in Current Stella worth praising even when the rest of the spectators are looking away in embarrassment and wondering if maybe Current Stella just got out of a major surgery and the anesthesia hadn’t fully worn off yet. Seriously, she’s that bad.
He just proved to me this last Saturday that he must either love you way more than I thought possible or he’s a sick liar. I just thought you should know that he’s capable of such unconditional loving support. He might have been telling you a bunch of exaggerated nonsense about how wonderful you are at everything your whole entire life. Stings a little bit I bet. I know, I just thought you should know.
God, that felt so good to just type that. I feel lighter, and more available for Current Stella emotionally now that I have said my peace.
Future Stella, I love you. Current Stella, you (like most kids your age) are obsessed with balloons. I personally don’t get it, but whatever. Your teacher had 100 balloons in the classroom for the 100th day of school. Each kid got to take home 3 and it was kind of weird how happy this made you. On the way home you lost 2 of them so that last one was a big deal. I really can’t stand the balloon hoarding that is trending big time in your life because you feel the need to keep them until they are prune-like. I find this creepy. In an attempt to speed the process up I suggested you give it to our neighbor upstairs because it was his birthday. I told you this would make his day. You were skeptical but ultimately ended up writing “Happy Birthday Mike” on it with a sharpie and marching it upstairs to give him while he was in the middle of playing poker with his buddies and most likely waiting for the strippers to arrive. Almost instantly you regretted this decision. You needed that balloon back in your life and until you got another one your body would feel like it was missing an appendage. Your G-ma and Grandpa were visiting and they cannot stand for you to want for anything so promises of bigger and better balloons the next day came flying your way. The next day, your Grandpa took you into the grocery store to pick out a balloon and this is the one you came out with.
Way to be awkward Pumpkin.
P.S.- Enjoy some photos from our past week
I would like to leave you with this picture of you pretending to be a dog with Gail the Puppy, which is my absolute favorite idea on this whole planet.