Middle School Angel By Kyle Mark steiner, posted with permission from the recipient There’s a row of Crayola drawings hanging up in my office consisting of hearts and fairies and unicorns. You are the responsible artist, of course. Don’t tell anyone else, but those drawings have their own mystic power. They radiate a steady dose of the immeasurable joy you have provided to your father for the past decade, making life a bit more bearable even when you are not directly present. I hope this isn’t too much of a burden to share, but you sort of became my emotional guardian angel the day you were born. The time we’ve shared, and the even the drawings you’ve made –have shielded me from the sinister forces of dread and anxiety. It’s a responsibility that you –who told me at age five that you wanted to be a princess ninja when you grow up –have handled with considerable aplomb. However, I can’t help but notice that there have been no new pictures added to my office wall for some time now. And that’s not all. When we go to the store, my partner in crime no longer wants to sword fight me with wrapping paper tubes. My adventuring buddy is busy these days –she’s rather text her friends than ride down the river in an inner tube with me. We had to beg you to go trick-or-treating with us. Could you please put your phone down for a moment? Based upon the number of eyerolls I’ve received recently, I fear you sometimes find my mere existence to be an embarrassment. There are times, late at night, when I start to wonder if perhaps my emotional guardian angel is in the process of flying away. Which, to be fair, is your right. You did not apply for the position of emotional guardian angel, nor do you belong to me. You are your own person, and the incredible joy which I have gleaned through our years of relationship has simply been a gift. It needs to be said –I will always love you no matter what. Plus, growing up is kind of a thing you have to do.
I also cannot help but notice that your contagious laugh, which I fell deeply in love with during the earliest stages of our relationship –well, it hasn’t really changed at all. The enthusiasm that bubbles forth when you are describing a round of Among Usor a funny YouTube video captures a timeless portrait of your personality. You spent an hour crafting an animation on your phone the other day and then rushed to show me. It also seems that we share a similar taste in books and movies. And I love that you have been willing to share some of the stories you’ve written yourself. There are many such experiences that we can share now that we could not just a few years ago, and there will be many more to come. Angels are not, by definition, temporary. Sometimes they just get a little taller. So, upon further reflection, I have reached the satisfactory conclusion that your recent decision to grow up just a little bit only really means that our relationship is just a bit different now and not, in fact, the end of the world I’d originally feared it to be. There’s still plenty of space up on my office wall, next to your previous Crayola creations. We will save it for copies of stories you write, or diplomas, or graduation photos. Or, if you are ever feeling up to it –for just one more fairy picture. Love, Dad