Roz Chast, Cartoonist

The women in Roz Chast's world flirt daringly with leaving Soccer Momhood, fantasize about a remote control with buttons labeled "brush your teeth" and "change that awful shirt," and are likely to receive a "Bad Mom" card for giving orange soda to their children when they run out of juice. We take our anxieties a little too seriously, her panels suggest. Chast started her worrying as a young hypochondriac. Here, she writes to herself at nine years old.

You are not going to get leprosy. I promise.

Or lockjaw.

Again, I promise. Don't ask me how I know. I just do.

Those nights you lie in bed feeling that your tongue is suddenly eight times bigger than normal, testing your jaw for stiffness, gulping down saliva repeatedly to gauge if you're having difficulty swallowing—they're over. YOU WILL NOT GET SICK.

I'm not one of those adults who think kids have the best lives. I know how much the world's traps and dangers burden you. Ever since you learned that Helen Keller sensed the heat of an electrical fire by putting her hands against the wall, you occupy your idle minutes fretting about the wires behind the plaster. Ever since you read how Trixie Belden had to suck the venom out of her brother's foot, you've been keeping a watchful eye out for rattlesnakes on the occasions when you're forced to leave the safety of your Brooklyn apartment.

But you're going to be okay. Roz, here's the other thing I want you to know: Being an adult is better than being a kid. You're going to grow up—healthy and whole—and everything you're feeling now is going to be great material for your work.

From Somebody Who Knows

Next: Senator Barbara Boxer on picking yourself back up again


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