How I'd Raise My Parents
If the tides were turned and I could give you everything I had, I would pluck you from the ocean where the waves beat age into your youth, from the jungle that stole warm years from your life and place you somewhere where the bed is warm and the milk is warmer. You will never need to know how to run. You will never need to know how to suck your breath in lest your breath be a little too loud.
I would pluck from underneath the boss who made you cry everyday as you ran around looking for people who would take me for the six weeks they wouldn’t let you have with me when I was born, from beneath the boss who laid you off from the job you had for ten years. I would pluck you from underneath your mortgage and your car payments, the never ending stacks of bills that never stop coming to the house. I would shove stacks of cash up Sallie Mae’s ass so she’d stop getting on yours. Foreclosure would be a myth I’d tell you like a bedtime story.
Dad, I’d buy you the suit you could never afford. Mom, I’d buy you that dress you don’t dare buy at full price. No, you wouldn’t make sacrifices for me; I would make sacrifices for you. I would learn how to wear shoes until the soles were just marks left on the driveway and even then, I’d wear them still, pretend they’re as new as the shoes I’d buy for you.
And I would send you to private schools, to the ones you actually want to go to, not some lousy place that will give you charity and then tokenize you. I would work those damn rice fields if that meant you could go to school instead because I know you’d work them for me. And you would graduate your valedictorian because that’s just how bright you are.
I’d send you to college. I’d send you to the college of your dreams. You could go get that degree I know you’ve always been wanting. I see your pride laced with envy at all the papers I’ve been accumulating, but know I’d give it all to you. And you’d never have to take out the outrageous student loans that I’ve been stressing out about. Those interest rates will never prey on you like they pray for me to fall into their grasp. You’ll graduate debt-free with a little money leftover from the job you worked on the side for fun to put the deposit on that apartment in Manhattan you dreamed about when you were a freshman.
And then I’d help you retire. I’d put every penny back in that 401k you drained to give me the life I never deserved because my God, you’ve never given me anything, but you sure did give me everything. Sometimes I cry at night thinking to myself about all the things you probably wanted. They spoke of the roads in America being paved in gold, not your own sweat and blood, but still you didn’t get the dream at the end of the road because I did.
And so if the tides were turned and I could raise you, oh how I would raise you. So high.