Dear Parent of Flat Middlest

This is the fifth and final post of a five-part guest post series. In it, Bryan addresses the challenges of hosting my dear Middlest’s “Flat Traveler” (aka Flat Middlest) as part of her first grade class geography project based on the book, Flat Stanley.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt and his wife live imperfect, childless lives in El Paso, Texas where he blogs, leads Twitter chats and does his best to perfect the art of complaint. His first novel, the space opera “The Worker Prince” is forthcoming from Diminished Media in Summer 2011. He can be found online at

Dear Parent:

Your child arrived safe and flat and has been in good hands. Which makes it all the more distressing to have to complain.

This is the laziest child I have ever seen. When we agreed to host your Flat Middlest, we assumed we’d at least get the benefit of free entertainment and the occasional help around the house. Instead, she just lies around waiting for us to take her places. Oh no, she doesn’t complain, she’s too smart for that. She just smiles, allowing the guilt to eat away at us until we’re ready to explode. The least she could do is annoy us from time to time with silliness like a normal child, but no, she’s little miss perfect and it makes me sick! What kind of child are you raising? Who wants to be around a stepford child anyway? I mean, sure, she’s flat, it’s a handicap, I know, but who among us doesn’t long to be a little thinner from time to time? Who among us doesn’t look at the mirror after stepping off the scale and wish the kitchen knives were closer so we could just get it over with?

That’s another thing. She’s totally well behaved. She never does anything dangerous, never pushes the boundaries. It’s not normal, I tell ya. We don’t have to worry about her at all. I just set her beside an open book and she’s fine until we return. She won’t even complain that we don’t turn the page. Sigh. Most parents would kill for a child this good. Why should you be so lucky? It’s actually making my wife beg to start a family.

“Look how easy it is? They’re a cinch to take care of!”

God how I wish she’d never invested in the English idioms dictionary! I’d prefer not to hear such phrases coming from her lips. Meanwhile, Flat Middlest just sits there grinning with her gum stuck to her shoe.

Look. Don’t get me wrong, we’re all happy to help out and everything and she’s fun to play with. We made snow angels together. She went car shopping with me. We even had fun on a day trip to Las Cruces, New Mexico. I’ll probably take her to real Mexico, too. But fun isn’t the point. She’s supposed to be a child and children drive adults nuts. It’s unnatural to be this easy. I’ve taken to sleeping with one eye open just in case. Seriously. My wife has dreams of a flat-Chucky-like attack. She’s up to something, I tell you, we just know it!

So soon, when it’s time for her to come home, you’ll forgive us if we sound relieved. After all, she’s your child, and it’s only fair you bear the burden of living with such annoying perfection. Let you and DH be the ones reminded of your imperfectness. We prefer to liv e with our delusions, thank you.

P.S. Yeah, we’re still friends but you scare the hell out of us.


3 thoughts on “Dear Parent of Flat Middlest

  1. You know I like all your posts and all your friends’ posts as well.

    So I regret that this comment is less than fully enthusiastic. I realize it would have been absurd to hope for a more well-rounded post; nevertheless, I was looking for something a little more edgy.

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