Dear Inner Child,

Listen up, shorty. I’m through with the “Softly, Softly”/“Sweet Child O’ Mine” approach to our issues. All you do is take advantage of me. If you and I are going to have a future, then, as of today, you will start toeing the line. My line. I’m all grown up, see? And you’re just an itty-bitty kid.

Now, let’s not have a misunderstanding—I assure you it’s not sour grapes on my behalf. Your advice, at times exemplary, will remain most welcome. Christmas comes to mind, and having to shop for nieces and nephews, and then there’s… well, actually, that’s about it. The rest of the time you really need to back off.

I’m the first to admit that you were better-looking than I am today: everybody loved you! But that was then, and this is now. Cute might get you a date, it might sometimes stop a cab, but it won’t pay for dinner.

I want to think of you fondly, not as someone weird à la Rosemary’s Baby, showing up unexpected and uninvited. It makes people antsy. Case in point: I’m way over the crying-for-Mommy stuff, so please, I’d appreciate if you could just drop it. There’s a time and a place, neither of which is the office.

Also, do us both a favor and quit the sulking, blaming others, and throwing stuff. OK? My friends, elders, peers, colleagues, acquaintances, clients, relations, neighbors, fellow citizens, and boss may in fact be offering constructive criticism, not scolding me, at least some of the time. Look at the averages! Enough already! People lose respect. You had your time. I haven’t forgotten the second-place finish in the Dungeons & Dragons nationals, but it doesn’t inspire the kudos it did in the ’80s. People have moved on, and we should too.

Another thing: beddy-bye-bye to weirding people out. Polite conversation is exactly what it purports to be: polite conversation. Interrupting and then being rude when I am speaking has to stop, as of right now. And before I forget, addressing people in the service industry as “Miss/Sir” plus the profanity of your choice is not making us any friends, but it is going to get us arrested.

And sneering is not good. I defend your right to an opinion, just so long as you keep it to yourself! And for the record, it’s jazz from here on in. I’m refining our taste.

College, the workplace, and a tapestry of failed relationships have qualified me in the game of life. In spite of, and because of, the screw-ups, it’s best if I play lead. Trust me. Start playing ball, and soon. If not, I’m going to have to put my foot down. And we know how much you like that. Let me tell you, if you think that Mommy coming down hard was no fun, then, bucko, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Get with the program and you keep our late-night milk-and-cookie powwows.

The Man in Your Life,
Kevin O. Cuinn