My Dearest Son,

As soon as your brain develops a little more, you’ll realize that grandparents are objectively better than regular parents: you don’t have to see them all the time, and when you do, their house smells like the inside of a giant closet and they give you chocolate. Unlike your regular parents, who punish you and make you eat carrots for no reason at all, your grandparents have candy dishes on their coffee tables and crazy stories from their exotic trips to “Branson, Missouri” and “The Costco.”

You’ll love your grandparents more than your regular parents, which is why you need to prepare yourself when they break some body part right in front of you. Perhaps Grams will miss a step while walking through the entrance of your local Cineplex after taking you to see the new Disney musical. Perhaps Grandpa Joe will get dazed while parking his Honda Civic and accidentally drive into an ATM machine. Perhaps either grandparent will merely faceplant in your living room on Easter.

Whatever the specifics, grandparents are old, which makes it very easy for them to hurt themselves while you watch.

When this situation inevitably happens, you won’t know what to think. For several seconds, your mind will just go blank. After all, you love your grandparents more than video games, and you’ve never seen a real live grown-up wipe out like that. Depending on the noises your fallen grandma makes, you might get the urge to laugh. After all, you’ve seen this kind of pratfall on your favorite Nickelodeon programs.

However, this feeling will go away, immediately followed by the guilt that comes with almost laughing at an elder’s embarrassment and pain. After the guilt, you’ll go into a panic like you’ve never felt before, commonly referred to as “Oh fuck. What should I do? I’m just standing here with my arms outstretched, but I have to do something. Shit. Shit. Shit.”

Assuming Grams survives the fall, one of three different scenarios will play out:

A) A nearby relative will swoop in, hoist Grandma onto the sofa, and call for help. We call this option “Thank God Aunt Nicole is nearby.”

B) There are no other relatives, so Grandma asks you for help in a voice that you’ve never heard before, and as you pull her into a sitting position, you finally realize your own mortality. We call this option “Nana’s voice shouldn’t sound like that.”

C) The fall is relatively minor and Grandma says that everything will be okay. She makes a joke about bruising her ego, and she asks you sweetly not to tell your mom because she’ll only worry. You reluctantly agree, but you’ll be forever haunted by the certainty that someday, not too long in the future, Grandma is going to fall again and no one will be there to help her. This option is called “The Monte Carlo.” I don’t know why.

None of the three possibilities is ideal, and no matter the result, you’ll end up seeing the world as a more dangerous, fragile place.

But hey, at least you stopped yourself from laughing.

Your Loving Parent