Mendel Letters 18: Mendel’s Advice on Raising Kids

February 17, 2021

Dear Mendel,

I need to confess something. When my younger brother and I were in high school, you didn’t care what we did, but you didn’t want to get calls or have to go to the school. I was pretty good at stopping before I got into too much trouble, but my brother wasn’t. We came up with what we considered an ingenious idea so you wouldn’t be bothered by “unnecessary” school disciplinary issues. Remember, this was long before computers and data that followed you for life. When students started high school they had to fill out a lot of paperwork. He listed me as his father, so when they sent letters home, they were addressed to me and I passed them along to him. You always figured the letters were for me because he and I went to the same school.

Looking back, I’m not sure you didn’t figure it out. Once when my son was sixteen and driving me crazy, I told you a story about what he had pulled. To my surprise, you laughed. Puzzled and annoyed, I asked why you were laughing. You laughed again and said “I had to put up with you.”

Your son

Hard copies of these typed letters were discovered in an old camp trunk in the basement storage facility of one of the few buildings that remain standing in this Brooklyn neighborhood. The building is quite decrepit and is scheduled for demolition. The letters were found in November 2048 by a teenager who believes they were written by his great-grandfather. The letters are addressed to Mendel, the letter writer’s father, who appears to have been dead for at least six years when his son, whose name we are unsure of, started to write him. The son appears very agitated in some of the letters. With permission from the family, we are publishing them on the date they were written, only 28 years later.