To My Baby Nephew on the Occasion of His Entrance Into This Cruel, Crazy World:
Baby's first day out
Hello, Franklin. No, thatâ€™s not your name. But itâ€™s what I will call you from here on out, because I am your fairy Godmother. Truth be told, Franklin was the name of the stuffed baby bear I had when I was six. Franklin was abandoned on the side of I-95 and I swooped into save him in the way Fairy Godmothers do. Say what you will, I gave him a new life!
But you are not a stuffed bear; you are real. You are ten fingers and ten toes and two eyes and one nose and one freshly circumcised penis. You are entirely real. That means, among other things, I canâ€™t leave you outside in the rain all night like I did to Franklin a few times.
Because you are real, and I am your aunt, and not your fairy Godmother, I wonâ€™t be able to make gold coins appear out of thin air. No, Iâ€™ll have to comb the beach with one of those metal detectors that crazy people use to collect rare coins. I didnâ€™t want to break this to you so soon, but thereâ€™s a lot less magic in the world than there should be.
I really do like the name Franklin. If one day I were blessed with triplets, I would name them Franklin, Delano, and Roosevelt. I would dress them and feed them in that order, too.
Unlike a lot of less fortunate children, you were borne of love, and not for the tax benefit or so anybody could mold you into the next star on the PGA tour. Of course, if your upbringing were up to me entirely, I would likely raise you in the footsteps of the great Patti Lupone. Iâ€™ve always wanted a Broadway star in the family.
But what do I know? Iâ€™m still a child myself. Not in the legal sense, of course. But in the emotional sense. Or in the sense that sometimes I still want to cry like you do: tearless screams of agony that come from not understanding why someone took something from me that I desperately wanted.
Every time I see you frown I think: You donâ€™t know the half of it. This misery is just beginning. Maybe youâ€™re tired or hungry, but has anybody ever broken your heart? Or stamped on your dreams? Or towed your car? And taken that car to a lot an hour and half from your house? And then asked you to pay a lot of shoes money to retrieve that car? Or stamped on your dreams? Not yet, they havenâ€™t.
But babies are about hope, not cynicism. So, I wonâ€™t pity you for being innocent; and I wonâ€™t punish you for it either. Not to say that I wonâ€™t be jealous of how you will see the world as a wondrous and exciting place, while I am growing increasingly wary of its disappointments. Iâ€™ll never squeeze the happiness out of you, but I will want to squeeze you sometimes.
I like you a lot already; I think you are kind of marvelous and always hilarious. I think you have an auspicious birthday, if only because as a friend pointed out to me, there’s a distinct possibility you could fall in love and marry Beyonce and Jay-Z’s little one.
I hope your parents will think Iâ€™m responsible enough to babysit for you soon. I hope your grandparents will forget that I used their credit card last week to re-furnish my living room. I hope a lot more things, for me and for you. Things I wonâ€™t write here, but will tell you one day when youâ€™re napping, or playing, or teasing, or crying, or hiccupping, or yelling, or dancing, or laughing, or doing any of the things that make us who we are.