Dear Sam and Sylvie,
This is to inform you that, effective immediately, your mother and I will be parenting asynchronously. This is not a punishment but, rather, an acknowledgment of your maturity and comfort with technology.
As we have learned from your teachers, we no longer need to have an in-person connection to confidently advance your development. The essential lessons of life, and the accountability we seek, are now available to us all through a suite of freely available apps. Regardless of our location (we’ll be on Martha’s Vineyard next week, by the way), you can be certain you are being cared for.
At the start of each day, you will receive an email with a list of tasks designed to ensure that you remain on your current trajectory of becoming productive, kind, and well-adjusted members of society.
Some of these assignments are designed to encourage cognitive skills: researching the best prices for grocery items on Instacart, or evaluating curricula, and calculating tuition scenarios at prospective colleges.
Other tasks are related to physical labor. These may include, but not be limited to, filling and emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash and recycling, retrieving mail, removing leaves and snow, and doing your laundry.
We will also be sending daily reminders regarding physical health, but you already know what those will say: exercise for at least 30 minutes each day (preferably outside), one dessert per day, max, and keep meat intake low.
In terms of your needs: please see the attached FAQ for common concerns. Here you’ll find timely answers to questions like:
- Do I have to?
- Do we have any milk?
- Where is the broom?
- Is this headache a brain tumor?
- Should I take a shower now?
- I broke a glass. What now?
- How do I use the washing machine?
- What’s for dinner?
- Can we have something different for dinner?
- Can I make my own dinner?
- Why aren’t we discussing this in person?
Because parenting isn’t just about your immediate needs but also your ability to explore and interpret the world around you, we are developing our own curriculum based on family values, our current political philosophy, and the stuff people told us was important when we were growing up.
To this end, we’ve established specific tracks of learning we will guide you through. Expect to receive at least two or three New York Times articles texted from your dad by the time he has finished his coffee in the morning and/or once he’s out of the bathroom. We expect you to read these within a reasonable timeframe (i.e., same day) and be prepared to discuss any/all of these at dinner. [NOTE: We will be allotting more time for New Yorker articles. These should be completed in time for Sunday dinner, when we will reflect on them in detail.]
Topics for the current family semester include:
- Joe Biden’s first 100 days: How much more do you want?
- Stock market trends: When is the crash coming and how can we save ourselves?
- Risk factors of post-vaccination activities for COVID-19: Who’s right? Mom or Dad?
You will also be receiving, via text or email, links to more classic films that we loved in our youth. We’d like you to enjoy these in your own time, but we do expect a thoughtful written or verbal response by week’s end. We’d also like to know which of these recommendations holds up and, more to the point, which have politically incorrect stereotypes and should no longer be referenced by us in polite conversation.
[Side note: We are happy to announce the latest list of excommunicated movies: Sixteen Candles, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Pretty Woman, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Manhattan (but please rewatch the glorious B&W Gershwin opening one more time before you make us). We still see value in Hannah and Her Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Big Trouble in Little China, and The Bad News Bears (1976 version — you can cancel the 2005 version if you wish. We never watched it). Based on the lively discussions we’ve been having, the theme of our next track will be: Artist vs Art/Viewer vs Twitter Mob vs Apology Videos on Tik Tok. [To discuss on Zoom next Tuesday. Link in Dad’s LinkedIn bio.]
Finally, we want to say that there are no two people more important in this world to us than you are. We are so grateful for your big beautiful brains, generous hearts, and playful spirits. The more we think about it, the more we come to realize that asynchronous parenting will not diminish our connections but, rather, reinforce them. (Although not the week we are in Aspen as internet service at the resort tends to be spotty).
We can’t conclude this letter without an honest admission: We’re not ready for you to leave the nest. The pandemic has been miserable, but it’s had a silver lining: we got one more year with you. One more really, really, really close year.
But we see the writing on the wall. You’re ready to fly, and we’re ready to have sex again without worrying that we’re making too much noise.
By establishing these systems and habits now, we’ll be strengthening our bonds and… wait. What? Sorry. Just got a Clubhouse alert. Van Jones and Tiffany Haddish are going live. So going to wrap up here and say: we’ll be using Asana.com for tracking all assignments. It’s amazing — we never forget anything anymore. Sorry.
Here’s to the future!
Mom and Dad