My dad sent me a letter just the other day. A real letter, not an email, that included his take on my book. A review of sorts. Here it is:
"My daughter’s graphic memoir is not only about the win-or-else culture of juvenile sports, but it is also a reflection of the muddled blueprint for parenting that frequently leads to unintended consequences. Most of us “want it all” for our children, but we had better be careful of what it is we want. The ambivalences of child rearing can be daunting, and Jen’s tale should be an omen for all would-be stage parents. I am forever chastened by my former preoccupation, yet I feel vindicated by the wonderful woman my daughter has become."
I feel obliged to share it here because 1) a father’s review probably won’t show up on any book jacket; 2) I was so moved by it. What a lovely commentary about a book that shines the harshest of lights on your very own parenting. I hope that what comes through in the book is that my mom and dad embarked upon my gymnastics as supportive and committed parents but somewhere along the road to what turned out to be nowhere, they transformed into slightly psychotic stage parents. Their own passions and desires got mixed up with the intense love parents feel for their children, and the ratio somehow shifted to create something of a bad recipe. Throw in my own compulsions and competitive ire and I’m pretty convinced that this thing could never have turned out any differently than it did. And, lets face it, raising your children to become happy, healthy, self-sufficient adults that contribute to this world we live in in a positive way and raise productive children of their own, is the main point of parenting. So hats off to you dad (and mom, of course.) This whole gymnastics thing was a hiccup along the way. And really, one could argue, adversity leads to resilience, so lets just say you planned it that way?
My point is this: what a great dad. He read something – which, truth be told, I was fretful about him reading – that was highly critical but filled with love and equal accountability, and all he could feel was pride. Not anger, not humiliation, not defensiveness. Just pride and love. If that’s not a great dad, I don’t know what is. I hope I can parent in such a selfless manner.
p.s. Dad – I think you should write your own book about parenting a super competitive, obsessive compulsive child. It can’t be easy.