06/03/2014 04:06 pm ET Updated Aug 03, 2014

Use Your Powers For Good, Kid

Jesse Michener

"Dear Mom and Dad, I am very sorry for not takeing responcebility and being a very big jerk. I hope this is enough to forgive me. If its not I understand and I will not get mad at the concequence. Sincerily, Eleanor"

Oh, Eleanor. The road we've travelled to get to this sweet apology would have exhausted even your Aunt Sara, who runs those crazy 100-mile marathons. There were times I didn't think either of us would make it. When you were little (littler, I guess. You're only 9 and 3/4), your dad and I used to look down at your adorable and somewhat terrifyingly earnest face and explain, politely, that we do not negotiate with terrorists. You didn't care: you were prepared to fight us every step of the way.

You, my daughter, are the most stubborn, justice-seeking person I know. Your dad reminds me this will serve you well when you grow up to become a doctor, or a politician or worse: a lawyer. I know your letter took some serious effort to write. And, as a gesture of goodwill, I won't even worry about the spelling mistakes (for now). I want you to know that of all the parenting notches on my secret parenting badge, this one is a pretty big deal.

I've worked with students in the private and public school sectors since before you were born, kiddo. I've seen all kinds of children grow up to be all kinds of adults. I've seen kids rise above horrific or challenging circumstances, taking a well-deserved victory lap as they enter the world of adulthood. I've seen it happen the other way, too: kids whose path, for whatever reason, was too much to bear.

This life is full of heartbreak and joy, my girl, and you're learning how to navigate each.

You know me, Eleanor, I worry about things sometimes. I worry about the normal crap all parents worry about, but as a teacher, I never worry about the kind of kid who is smarter than his grades show. Or the kid who messes around in class and talks too much; she doesn't bother me. It's the kid who doesn't take any sort of responsibility for his actions that sends me into outer space. That's the kid who keeps me up at night.

Here's why: The person who can't own a mistake and pay the consequences is so terrified at the thought of failure he'll do anything to keep it as far away from him as possible, often at the expense of others. It's that or he is caught up a world created by equal parts apathy and untruth. Either way, the outcome is a hot mess of destruction and hard knocks. Maybe not today, but sometime on that 100-mile marathon we all seem to run, there will be a price to pay.

My girl, your path just got a little easier and a whole lot more fun. I'm more confident you'll be using your powers for good than ever before. Your dad and I are here either way, but it's sure nice to enjoy the view with you, kiddo. Keep it up.