The other day I got an email from school saying Jessica had randomly been selected to participate in a group discussion about how the school could better support students and asking me to give permission to allow her to do so. Since this is the kind of thing I leave entirely up to Jessica, I described what the project was and asked her if she wanted to participate. She said she didn’t.
So I wrote a note saying that Jessica preferred not to participate and therefore I was not giving my permission. Jessica watched me warily and then asked with deep suspicion: “What are you doing?”
“I’m telling the school that you don’t want to do this.”
“Why didn’t you just check ‘I do not give permission’? That was all you had to do.”
I thought about this for a moment, because it was a good question, and then I realized that it was about owning the decisions you make. She didn’t want to participate; she ought to be able to say so – or at least let me say so on her behalf. I could give a rat’s ass, so it wasn’t my decision.
I told her that and she sighed and said, “You do not have to use ‘rat’s ass,’ you know. You could find another way to say that.”
“I know,” I said. “But I fully embrace that I have a foul mouth. I do not apologize for using bad words all the time. I don’t pretend I am going to change or that I’m sorry for doing it. I don’t have a bourgeois infatuation with propriety. I am what I am. I own it. I use bad language and I don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks.”
She gave me a look. “I do not think this is why they mean by being a role model.”
“Oh,” I said, giving her a kiss on that very sweetest spot on her cheek, “I think I kick ass as a role model. I expect you to take the consequences of your decisions, just like I take mine, and I expect you to do it without whining. I’m never going to say, ‘Eat your dinner’ or ‘Do your homework’ or ‘Stop using bad language.’”
“I always eat my dinner, I always do my homework, and I never use bad language,” she said.
“You see?” I told her. “Brilliant, right?”