The Fiction of Owen Thomas

Dear Miss Tinkles

Dear Miss Tinkles

Proud Chicago Mom

Dear Miss Tinkles:

I have twin daughters graduating with academic honors at the end of the school year and I need some help. These girls can get rather competitive so my husband and I want to make sure we treat them fairly. We were planning on hosting a graduation party for both of them, but they each demanded their own celebration. We agreed that they each deserve their own moment in the sun, so we are hosting a party at our church for one of them on Saturday and the other on Sunday.  We are placing an announcement in the local paper and printing up approximately one hundred invitations for each daughter so that we can send them to all of our friends, acquaintances, and business associates, inviting them to celebrate our daughters’ achievement.

Here’s the problem: my husband wants to include a statement in the invitation that says ‘cash in lieu of gifts is appreciated.’ I have told him that this is crude, embarrassing and totally unacceptable but he is stubborn and will not even consider my strong preference, which is to simply state that ‘monetary contributions are optimal but not required.’ I prefer this more subtle phrasing, especially since everyone will be getting two separate invitations and I do not want it to seem pushy because in the end we really don’t care (although some of the wrapped gifts last year were not so great). All we care about is celebrating this achievement for our daughters. After all, you only finish the second grade once! So which invitation do you think is most appropriate under the circumstances? Sincerely, Proud Chicago Mom.

Dear Proud:

Frankly, I think both you and your husband have missed the mark. The most tasteful invitations should leave out any mention of cash. You need to be a bit subtler in your approach to solicited gifting. I suggest letting your invitees know that your family has thoughtfully registered with businesses like Wells Fargo and Bank of America.  Better yet, you could suggest access to the invitee’s own bank account by means of a congratulatory debit card; how is that for classy?! You might also suggest gift certificates from the American Psychiatric Association.

Your letter does cause me some concern, however, that your daughters are actually under-appreciated. If you have been limiting yourself to celebrating their achievements only once a year when the graduation season rolls around, you are missing a lot of other opportunities for public recognition and gifting. After all, each school year is comprised of multiple challenges and achievements. Spelling test victories. Show-and-tell triumphs. Pooping in the potty without help.

And try to think beyond the academic scene. Think of how proud you will be when your girls graduate from one DSM diagnostic category into another. One day they’re just a couple of ordinary over-entitled brats, and then suddenly they’re bonafide pathological narcissists. With any luck, you and your husband can sculpt these kids into full-blown Borderline Personalities with delusions of grandeur. Now that’s worth a party! And don’t hesitate to think long term. Plan for future successes by suggesting that your friends all chip in for a timeshare with the Bureau of Prisons. Then see if you can broaden that list of lucky invitees to include actual hostages.

Happy parenting! Yours, Tink.

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