Dear Little Girl Who Picked Her Nose on Stage All Through the Dance Recital:
If I were you, for Christmas this year I would ask for a video camera, which I would then learn to use as quickly as possible so that I could spend the next five years or so sneaking around the house trying to capture the worst and most embarrassing moments of ALL of my family members (yes, even Grandma, Grandpa, and the dog). I would then stash that film in a secure location (maybe that same ice cave way up north where they are keeping the world seed bank?), and then, finally, send a blackmail letter to everyone on that video. Trust me on this: if you don’t take my advice, and take it soon, your family will be able to hold the “Great Gold Mining Episode of 2012” over your head for the rest of your life.
I’m not saying that because your family is evil or malicious. Not at all: in all likelihood, they won’t be holding it over your head to be mean. Just like they won’t be embarrassing you with it forever to be mean, either. No, the reason they will bring up the story (and show the video) to your future husband the very first time they meet him will not be because they are trying to make you shrivel up inside your own skin and die from extreme mortification; on the contrary, they will be doing it because they love you. Really. For the same reason they will post it on YouTube so that one day, when you least expect it, you will open up Facebook and see yourself—picking a winner—as the newest internet meme. Asking them not to do it—telling them not to do it—won’t do any good. In fact, it will probably just make things worse.
“What?” they’ll say. “What are you getting so upset about? You were three; it’s not like you still do that kind of thing—or do you?”
And, oh, how everyone will laugh. Everyone, even you, because if you don’t laugh they will call you “uptight” and “sensitive,” which will only lead to other, equally embarrassing stories about the time you had a temper tantrum when they showed the same video at your kindergarten/8th grade/high school/college graduation ceremony. And so you will grit your teeth, and smile, and watch the damn video with everyone once again. Unless.
Unless you take my advice and get the goods on them, too.
So start now. Film your dad secretly watching (and tearing up over) your “mother’s” collection of Nicholas Sparks movies. Film your mom wolfing down the last of her birthday cake (the one she passed on at dinner—“Oh, I couldn’t eat another bite—it looks delicious, though”) while standing over the kitchen sink at midnight. Film you older sister squeezing blackheads before her big date, and your older brother using your sister’s eyebrow pencil to fill out his fourteen-year-old “mustache.” You could even film your grandfather indulging in his secret passion: watching “RuPauls’s Drag Race.” (On second thought, hold on to that one—it might be worth a car when you turn sixteen.)
Don’t worry that this will turn you into a sneak. I mean, it will turn you into a sneak, but that’s okay. As the youngest, that’s already your job. And don’t worry that this is somehow proof of your family’s “disfunction.” Your family is not dysfunctional—at least no more so than most. Families are groups of people that are held together by both love and secrets—dysfunctionally so only when the secrets are unevenly distributed.
For example, like when there is a video of one family member picking their nose for five long minutes on center stage when they were three.