To: Jack
From: Daddy

Regarding your mother’s favorite lullaby, “Hush, Little Baby,” I have a few observations that it would be to your financial benefit to hear.

First of all, disregard the opening lines completely. You are still only 1 month old, little baby, and if you want to say a word, please do. It would be thrilling, and we could probably make some good investments off of all the infant product endorsements. If you have a particular word in mind, go with that, but if not, I’ll bet we could make a lot of money with “Similac.” Practice it in your spare time.

Secondly, this mockingbird that is alluded to I will assume is trained to sing a little snippet of a tune. I would hope so, as mockingbird song is not so pretty when they aren’t imitating. If we’re going to have to be cleaning up bird shit off the carpets, we’d better at least get a pleasing jingle out of the deal. However, we might actually hope for the mockingbird to be tone-deaf, as the replacement has far greater value. Should the mockingbird be songless, your mother has agreed to buy you a diamond ring. I know this seems dangerous, and in fact it is, but we will most certainly be putting said ring into a safe-deposit box for you. Before doing so, I will be taking the ring to a reputable jeweler, as your mother has a tendency to buy products as advertised, without further inquiry as to the quality of the workmanship. I will take her condition “if that diamond ring turns brass” to be an oversight, and not some sort of wealth-reducing alchemy, for we both know (even you at such a young age) that metals cannot be transmuted into other metals. Therefore, we will assume that your mother is only concerned with the diamond itself, which we will snatch out before she tries to trade it in for a looking glass. Frankly, the diamond is the real bargain here. I’ll buy you a looking glass, Jack. We’ll not be trading diamond rings for mirrors, no matter the composition of the ring. Take my advice. I may not be an investment banker, but I know a rip-off when I see one.

I don’t know if your mom expects the mirror to have some kind of preternatural glow or what, but if it proves not to “shine” (perhaps it just needs a good cleaning), you’re getting a bottle of wine out of the deal. Even considering our relatively lax views on underage drinking, I would assume that she’s looking for a bottle with some aging potential. One would hope that she would at least consult me on this one, as I do work in the wine business. I’ll try to get you a good vintage of Bordeaux, but it’ll take some doing, and, frankly, you might be better off keeping your investments in something more stable, like perhaps diamonds. This is also where things start to go way downhill for you in terms of profit potential. Your mom, on the condition that the bottle of wine “gets broke” (a painful misuse of grammar, and from an English teacher, no less), will buy you a billy goat. Now, I’m not saying that there’s no money in goats, but to make a real income from them you’ll need several milking goats (therefore, nanny goats, not billy goats) and some cheese-making facilities, neither of which is possible in our apartment.

“If that billy goat runs away, Mama’s gonna buy you another day.” This is puzzling to me, as I can’t figure out if it means you’re out of luck and will have to start afresh tomorrow in this whirlwind commodities trading, or if someone has a contract out on your life and she has been wiring the assassin funds to stave off your execution. Either way, tomorrow let’s see if we can get another diamond. If we keep stockpiling them for a few weeks, I know a guy. We can go live out our days in the Caribbean. As long as she learns a little about exchange rates first, your mom can come, too.