Letter to My Unborn Crack Baby

Dear Baby,

There are so many things I want to want to tell you about, like the night your mother and I spent making you. How it felt to hear your were on the way. Or how amazing it was to feel you moving in your mother’s belly. But it’s highly likely none of these moments will be anything I remember with any clarity.

As I write this, you do not yet exist, but you are an inevitability. Because if there is one thing I enjoy, it’s throwing it down with a crack whore. And even now, I must burden you with a request. I must ask that you open your heart to grant forgiveness. First, please forgive me for playing my part in bringing you into this world. As you will learn, this can be a harsh place to grow up in. Please also forgive your mother, too. Her addiction does not make her a bad person. You will be born with that same addiction, so you will be even closer to your mother than most children are. You will share her desire for that sweet, sweet crack. I admit I also share the addiction, but our connection over the crack will be so different than the one with your mother.

Speaking of your mother, at this point, she will be one of three different crack-addled harpies I’m currently shtooping. It is very possible you will have a half-brother or sister who receive a photocopy of this same letter. But understand that doesn’t mean I will care for you any less than your crack-addicted siblings. You will all be equally important to me. But no matter which mother is yours, the story of how I met her is pretty much the same. My insatiable desires led me to her in a crack den in the bad part of town. We shared a crack pipe on a heavily stained mattress on the floor. We laughed and shared tales of adventure and smoked a lot of crack together. It’s the same old story each time, just with a different woman.

I dream about your birth sometimes. You arrive, a full three months early. You have the smallest little fingers and toes I have ever seen. I can see your ribs through your translucent skin. Your tiny cries break my heart because your body wants crack but cannot have it; withdrawal is always the hardest. I imagine you growing tall and strong, becoming a star athlete and academic whiz-kid. You will be better than your mom and dad, because you will have the strength to refuse to smoke crack with us. You and your possible half-brothers and sisters will be born with the crack addiction, but you will have the strength to cast it aside.

Studies have shown that crack babies are not necessarily predisposed to any specific developmental problems, so you could very well turn out okay. If you develop problems, though, know that it may not be from the crack or even from me. My genes are strong; all of my grandparents lived well into their 90s and died of old age. If something makes you “special,” then it probably came from that crack-smoking whore mother of yours, whichever one she turns out to be. So, again, I ask you to find the ability to forgive.

I’d like to believe I will be there for your little league games or cheerleading competitions or karate matches or first pony ride or whatever you end up doing, but please understand, the crack really takes up a lot of my time. It can be really hard to stay organized when you’re looking for a fix. And I may not be entirely coherent some days, or I might disappear for a week sometimes. I imagine your mother may come up short with some of these things, too, but know that I will try my best to be there.

One thing a child cannot often understand is that his father is not invincible. And even though I will say that in this letter, you still will not understand right away. You will slowly learn early on that I am entirely too weak to give up the delicious crack. But maybe I will find strength in you. I hope that I can.

There is so much I wish to teach you, but I cannot put it all in this letter. I look forward to meeting you, my little one. But right now, I’m really looking forward to smoking some crack. See you one day, soon!



[Inspired in part by Joe Cetta’s fantastic letter.]

Being the Parent of a Child in Competitive Sports is Hard!

If you’re like me, and let’s hope you are, then you have a child who competes in sand castle building tournaments. And if you’re like me, you further understand the added stress and frustration of being the parent of a champion. Yes, I’m certainly proud of my son, that’s a given. But like some parents out there, I take his victories and his losses to heart just a bit too much. My therapist says I need to relax and maybe not attend one or two of his matches. He says he might help his independence and it will help me not have a goddamn heart attack right there on the beach. But I can’t disagree more. I have to be there to let my son know I will always be in his corner.

But how can sand castle building be stressful, you might ask? You can’t even imagine, my friend. The competition is fierce out there, and his opponents are hungry for victory. He may as well play for the Dallas Cowboys or Manchester United or the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics team. And Douglas has been dominating the 11-15 age bracket for years, but this is his last year in that group. And he had some flubs that may be psychologically detrimental to him before he enters the ultra-fierce 16-18 age bracket, which is the least populated bracket in competitive sand castle building. Least populated? Big surprise! you may think. But it’s not because the kids that age quit sand castle building to embrace their hormonal interests, not at all. It’s because it’s war and only the best and smartest survive.

Just to get into the 16-18 bracket, the kids have to compete in a 5-day battle royale to see who has the chops. A different project for each day. Failure to impress the judges means the kid sits out for the season and has to try to get in the following year. I try not to put much pressure on Douglas, because he seems to put enough on himself. I encourage him to be the best he can be and push himself farther than he’s ever gone. On days when he seems very down on himself and his abilities, I throw out a casual comment or two to make sure he presses on. Something like, “Your mother ran out on us because she thought we were losers. You don’t want to prove her right, do you?” is highly effective, believe me!

I strive to find the right balance of encouragement, pride, and coaching to make him be a winner. When he does well with a top three finish, I let him eat dinner that night. When he suffers a painful loss due to a stupid mistake, I tell him to do better next time and make him sleep in the back yard. But I really feel everything he goes through. When Douglas earns that medal, I share his joy. When he is defeated, I wipe away his tears with my own. Maybe it is selfish to think this, but I feel like when he knows how proud of him I am every single day, it makes each win even better and every loss a little easier to bear.

One day, when he is an old man and he looks back on his days as a competitive sand castle builder, I’m sure he will think fondly of when I was there, cheering for him at the beach. Douglas will remember me helping him by telling him that his Arc de Triomphe isn’t quite to scale as much as little Steve Goldberg’s. He will smile, remembering me clapping louder than the other parents and taking pictures of his medal ceremonies. He will remember me shoving his face in his toppled Gold Gate Bridge because he did not take into account the moisture changes throughout the day, forever learning the inherent dangers of too much cloud cover. He won three tournaments in a row after that day, and the medals kept stacking up from there. I helped make Douglas a winner.

My therapist doesn’t know jack shit about being a winner.