You Might Not Get What You Thought You Were Promised

My daughter is a beast. She really is, we call her the monster. If her will power could be bottled, we’d have a cure for all addiction. I’m not a small man and I’ve been in my fair share of tight spots that required a certain amount of implied intimidation and when I use my boom voice on that little girl, she’s the only person in the world who meets it with a pause and a smirk.

What will her life be? She’s two, so it’s possible that a lot of her personality is informed by the fact that developmentally SHE’S TWO, but I’ve been around and seen a lot of two year olds and most of them are not monsters. And it makes me look out over the next twenty five years and wonder what they’ll bring.

Naturally, what I hope for most is simply health – physical and mental. Those things are givens, for the most part, but I still find myself setting the bar really low. There are times, though, that I find myself letting my dreams get away from me and I think about what she will be do.

God, the women in my family.

My great grandmother saved her money teaching for three years to buy a piano by getting up hours before anyone, walking to the one room schoolhouse to light the fire and teach all the local farmer’s kids. After three years, the crops failed and she used the money to save our family farm, working another three years before she finally got the piano. She taught herself to play.

My grandmother was promised fidelity and security and when she got neither she threw out her husband and went to college at the same time as her daughters. By the time she was in her 60s, she was dean of women, the highest post a woman can get at BYU.

My mother buried one husband and tossed out another, forged a whole new career for herself at 55. She was promised fidelity and security and when she didn’t get it, she started over. At 80, she just got a new job and she’s flying all over the country, taking care of her grandkids and working.

My sister and my sister-in-law, Michelle and Sabrina, could start a company today that would be Fortune 500 by in three years. If they did it with Jordana, it’d take six months.

When Marlena gets the chance to be tested, I have no doubt how she’ll be received. Obviously I don’t expect her to be singled out for praise – my children don’t have the kind of parents that train gifted children and that is sometimes a source of shame for me – but I know that she will lean forward, nose into the wind, every time she is met with resistance. And I know that a level playing field would see her racing to the front, shouldering her way in because she wants to be the first, the best, the one who makes the decisions.

I think about my own path. Dropping out of high school, lying my way into college, faking my way into every job I’ve ever had, and it occurs to me that winning a genetic lottery and being bold are the two most useful skills I have. There were a constant stream of teachers and adults telling me I was wasting my intelligence and talent, but I just floated along and shit just worked out. It’s like that for people like me, unfair as it might be.

Knowing that is important, and I find myself a little bit disgusted when members of our deeply privileged class talk about how unfair things are for them. Their concerns about slipping below what their current lives are, as if subsistence alone weren’t comforting to most people in the world, as if we are owed what we thought we were promised and any changes to those promises – even if they are based on absurd or unfair systems – are absolutely panic-inducing.

My little girl isn’t gonna get a fair shot right now. My son is gonna have it much easier. *Neither* of them is gonna have it easier than kids in private school with wealthy parents. And that’s our system, that’s what we’ve got right now and it’s bullshit, it’s built on a series of lies and oppression and it is an immoral system that has to change.

I don’t care where you went to college. I don’t care if your pay is cut by 10%. I don’t care if you deserve the job you have now, that you are qualified for it and you do it well, I don’t care. I’m one of the best children’s voice teachers in the country, and I have unparallelled skill as a studio musician but guess what? The world changed, everyone records music on the same machine I’m currently writing this blog on, so I went from six figures in the early 90s to… well, let’s say five figures now. Because the system changed.

The system has to change again. Hating To Change is what makes you a conservative, and I’m watching it slowly happen to all the people around me. You fight, you struggle, you go to school, you work your way up, you find a mate, you maybe have kids and you think in your 30s and 40s you can just start living your life based on the system you were given, but that system is bullshit, it’s based on *inventions*, and it has to change. That means you just might have to introduce a little more struggle into your lives.

Because my daughter might be a person who changes our country.

Or my friends’ daughters. Jesus, I think about Angela, I think about Rory, I think about my friends’ girls and I CAN NOT believe that they have to stop at Vice President, that they won’t get tenure, that they will make 73 cents for every dollar that Barnaby makes for the same job.

Both Presidential candidates tell me this is the greatest country in the world, but the best they can come up with is the Lilly Ledbetter act? I mean… Look, thanks for making it *possible*, not *easier* mind you but just *possible*, for women to discover, hire a lawyer and sue, on their own, an employer who discriminated against them without a statute of limitations, but that’s not exactly anywhere CLOSE to fixing the problem. AND ONLY ONE CANDIDATE WAS WILLING TO EVEN DO *THAT*, the other one’s running mate voted AGAINST it.

It has to change. You have to be punished if you don’t hire women and minorities. Maybe once you get a job, you’ll have to apply for it again, maybe we need to see if you’re still worth your one dollar and an additional $.27 savings on someone else’s job. Maybe you aren’t gonna get what you thought you were promised – my mom, my grandma and my great grandma didn’t get what they were promised either and they kicked ass.

If I’m gonna come clean and tell you that my failures are my fault and that my good fortune is based largely on white skin and boy bits, then do me the favor of not complaining about small changes in your enormously privileged lives. In order to rectify ridiculous circumstances in our past, you might have one or two small unexpected struggles, but in the long run you’ll have to have the same faith in yourself and your children as I have in Marlena. I’m sure you’ll be fine.