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Dear Adults

An Open Letter on Behalf of a Child

By Nellie PoppinsPublished about a year ago 4 min read
Dear Adults
Photo by Jennie Clavel on Unsplash

Dear Adults,

I’m not supposed to say this, but you really suck at this hero stuff. Well, most of you.

You drag me through exhibitions and show me paintings and sculptures of long-ago famous people. You make me feel bad for not knowing the name of a president or the general who led the battle to save our nation.

But what am I to do with these museum heroes?

They fought battles that have nothing to do with the seven-fifteen school bus you put me on every morning. They fought for ideas that are way beyond the comprehension of most of us on that school bus.

Then you give me the movie heroes. They fight against big, scary, visible enemies with superpowers. What hurts me is the kid on the bus who doesn’t want to sit with me. And the teacher who can’t answer my question because we have to do something else. And the sun that shines so bright when I’m stuck in the classroom all day. Where is the superpower that helps me deal with the systems you’ve put in place for me?

The worst is when you handpick heroes for me. “Why can’t you be like Johnny next door?” Sure, he is polite when you, adults, are around, and he gets mostly As. But you should have seen what he did to that third-grader last week in the lunchroom. Maybe if you stopped chasing your own fake heroes and put your phone down for a second, you would know what I’m talking about.

So you, the majority of you, talk to me about the ideas that general fought for in a way that makes sense in my life. Give me the confidence in myself to face the challenges of my day. And let me find my own heroes.

And the rest of you? You know who you are. Though I’m almost certain you don’t feel like you belong in a letter about heroes.

There is Mr. Leary on the bus who never forgets to ask about my puppy. Then the library lady. Not the one who always yells at us to be quiet. Mrs. Silverman, the school librarian, who sends me a note in class to go see her and when I do, she gives me a book she just knows I will like.

And then there is Mrs. Kay.

Last year, I really struggled in math class. I added when I was supposed to subtract, never knew whether seven times eight was fifty-four or fifty-six, and I kept forgetting to work with the right measurement units. Mrs. Kay, she stood by my desk and looked down at my notebook. I knew she was disappointed when I messed up. She talked to me about my puppy having her own puppies and me selling several of them. It's something I would never do, but she helped me understand that I had to subtract. She also noticed when I finally got fifty-six right.

Then at the end of the year, she gave me my report card. We had to assemble at a park instead of at the school because of the pandemic and stuff. We put down our blankets as if we were having a picnic. Brandon brought Cheetos to share and the ants were crawling on our blanket in no time. Mrs. Kay’s blanket was full of books to give away, and of course the report cards. She said something to the parents, I can’t remember, about the whole class.

Then she called us over one by one. And she talked about how hard I worked all year in every one of her classes and especially at math, and how she appreciated me trying and getting better. As she was kneeling on her picnic blanket, handing over my report card, looking up at me, she made me feel like a hero.

I hope this helps.


A Child

About me

Why am I writing this?

In a nutshell: I write fiction to illustrate parenting situations, to serve as a springboard for discussion, to respond to questions on my Slack workspace and elsewhere.

This story is a submission to the challenge Hometown Heroes. When I respond to challenges on Vocal, my main focus is still writing about adult-child relationships.

Why am I writing this?

The long answer: before marriage and kids, I started research on how the adult bilingual brain processes subordinate clauses, such as, “Mary Poppins assessed the personality of Jane and Michael with the measuring stick she pulled from her magic bag.” After the kids were born, my attention turned to the developing brain and parent-child communication.

I am a cognitive psychologist, a child psychology consultant, a family support specialist, and I write stories to put parenting situations in a different perspective, to make them easier to understand and more memorable, and to help with the discussion of related subjects.

Why are you reading this?

Let me know what brought you here! You can find me on Facebook, and from there, you can also join the discussion on the Flywheel Parenting workspace on Slack.


About the Creator

Nellie Poppins

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