I have an 8-year-old who has something of an overactive imagination, which is a good thing for a child to have, in theory. There are entire 10,000-word think pieces and scientific studies now about how all playgrounds should be replaced with an open field and a giant barrel of sticks so that kids can go construct an imaginary toilet for horses or something. So when my kid grabbed a bunch of paper and some markers and announced that, in anticipation of Thanksgiving, she was making a list of shit she was thankful for, I was naturally overjoyed. So proactive! So creative! And I didn't have to force her to do it at all! That's quality dadding.
And the resulting list isn't that bad. She has some good shit on here. I am constantly telling my kids that they need to display more gratitude ("In some countries, they don't have ANY chicken nuggets to eat, you little shit!"), so I'm happy this document simply EXISTS. But there are a few curious outliers here. Allow me to break it all down …
1. "My family." Good choice for the top spot. I approve. We're fucking awesome, and I'm glad you recognize that. Well done, girl. The rest of this is gravy. You got the most important part right.
2. "My friends." Again, a fine choice. I am also thankful for your friends, because when they come over, they entertain you so I don't have to. More phone time for Daddy.
3. "School." You're on a good streak here, kid. Keep it up.
4. "Money." Oh. OK, so now we've taken a bit of a dark turn. I love you, dear. But money is not everything. Sure, we need it for food, and clothing, and shelter, and running water, and the precious, precious cable … You know what? I'm pretty thankful for money as well. Money is fantastic if you have some of it. But let's not go trumpeting that. You're eight. I want you to be one of those kids who grows up and is like, "We were poor, but we didn't know we were poor! We lived in a box, but that box was a castle to me!" That's a good line in any biography.
Anyway, don't obsess over money. I don't want you to become one of those vapid kids who's crazy materialistic and is constantly demanding new shit to fill the hole left in your heart because you've become a walking embodiment of everything wrong with capitalism. Like those My Super Sweet 16 kids. Remember that show? Christ.
5. "My teacher." True story: My kid's first-grade teacher, a very kind woman, passed away in the middle of the school year, and my son's preschool teacher (also very nice) passed away the year after THAT, and so now I'm terribly concerned that my kids are black widows. Anyway, like my daughter, I am very grateful for her current teacher, who seems to be in perfect health and OH PLEASE GOD KEEP HER SAFE.
6. "My home." Your home? I don't think so. Pay the gas bill, and then we can talk about the proper use of possessives.
7. "Thanksgiving." We're still in a pretty good spot with this list. But now, the girl goes on a bit of a run …
8. "My butt." Oh, very funny. LAUGH IT UP, GIRL. But you should be thankful for your butt! I even explained it soberly to her: Without your butt, all the toxic waste in your body would build up and then poison your body, and then you would explode with gallons of impacted diarrhea. LOL DIARRHEA.
Anyway, butts are a big joke trend right now in third grade. If there was a Twitter for just third graders, the trending topics would be:
9. "My body." Are you just saying you're happy that your body functions properly? Or are you, like, proud of your curves and stuff? Little early for that. We don't want you turning into Junior Melanie Griffith here. I'm an American father, which means there is nothing I fear more than the sexual maturation of my daughter. OH MY GOD WHAT IF YOU BECOME A WOMAN AND STUFF? Terrifying.
10. "Myself." Let's not go overboard on the self-congratulation here. I love you to death, but you still have work to do. For example: Your shirt is not a napkin. I don't know how many times I gotta tell you.
11. "How pretty I am." Well, look, I want you confident, but not OVERconfident. Okay? What about how pretty you are in the INSIDE? It's not just about rocking that bedazzled T-shirt from Justice with swagger.
12. "My stuffed animals." Of which there are many, and if one of them is missing because the 2-year-old flushed it down the toilet, then no one is going to sleep until I am forced to call a fucking field team of U.S. Marshals to go locate it.
13. "Books." Hell yeah. Books are nature's iPad!
14. "Video games." Fine.
15. "Minecraft worlds." Fucking Minecraft. I have tried my best to see the good in Minecraft. "It's Legos, but digital! YOU CAN BUILD ANYTHING!" And it's true: I would rather have the kids playing Minecraft than fucking Candy Crush or some other brain-eating shit-wheel of a game. But try getting a child to STOP playing Minecraft. It's like trying to pry a fucking lion away from dinner. I have seen people cry less when having their actual children ripped away from them. It's just a game, dear. And I spent the majority of my childhood waiting for gaming platforms that did NOT use shit-ass block graphics. You should really take advantage of the new technology.
16. "All my teachers in the past (and right now)." Strong use of parentheses right there. Looks like the title of Arcade Fire song.
17. "Gymnastics." Very cool. Now could you please practice those gymnastics at the gym, and not a foot away from the nearest window or television?
18. "My babysitter." I know the old stereotype is that kids don't like babysitters and delight in torturing them, but I have not found that to be true. My kids can't WAIT for the fucking babysitter to come. They get to stay up late. They get to hang out with a cool older kid. The next morning, my kids are always like, "Hey, can she come back tonight? And the next night? And the night after that? ANYONE IS BETTER THAN SEEING YOU TWO NAGGING ASSHOLES AGAIN." Anyway, I'm glad you like the babysitter.
19. "Dad, Mom, and my brothers" Notice who's listed first? I WIN.
20. "My room." That isn't what you said a week ago when you were demanding that Mom and I get your room, and you get the master bedroom.
21. "All the people who know me except [name redacted] and creepy kindergarteners!" Who is this [name redacted] kid? Why is he creepy? Do you need me to beat his ass? Because I'll beat his ass if he's giving you trouble. Sometimes words don't do the job.
But lay off the kindergarteners. I know they eat paste and barely speak English, but they're new to school. Give them a hand. Show them where the water fountains are. Tell them to be thankful for their butts. They'll appreciate it, just as I appreciate you. Happy Thanksgiving, guys.
Drew Magary writes for Deadspin. He's also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter@drewmagary and email him at email@example.com. You can also buy Drew's book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.
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