Ballerina with a Gun


Ah parents.

We want so many things for our children.
Things we didn’t have for ourselves. Opportunities we didn’t seize. Every conceivable possibility that exists.

Our hindsight makes us brilliant. Our regret makes us sentimental.

We imagine our children will be prodigies, uniquely equipped to offer the world something particularly extraordinary.

Here’s what I’m building up to…

I should have kept a list of everything Francisco said he wants Mariel to be. What follows is partial, based entirely on memory:

-a pianist
-a judo expert
-a surgeon
-an ambassador
-the president (“the first female, biracial, bicultural president who’s the daughter of an immigrant who doesn’t even know what his immigration status is”)
-Secretary of State (“well-rounded, like Condolleezza Rice, but with different political tendencies”)
-a human rights lawyer
-a documentary filmmaker
-a professor at a prestigious university
-a famous writer
-an intellectual with an equally developed competency and proclivity for the arts AND athletics
-any of these, of course, should also be accompanied by the ability to dance salsa and casino, to speak several languages fluently, and to be able to cook (for pleasure, not for patriarchal ends)

He has been careful to note on more than one occasion that he does not want her to be “soft,” by which he means vulnerable to any kind of victimization. For that reason, she should also be able to handle a gun with ease and expertness, and for that reason, we should take her to Colorado, where my dad lives, and have him teach her how to handle different types of pistols, shotguns, rifles, muzzleloaders, and whatever other types of guns exist.

We laugh, sometimes, at this composite picture: the tiny ballerina in a pink tutu, tied with a martial arts black belt, wire rim glasses indicating her scholarly erudition, a gun poised delicately in hand.

It’s rather sick.


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