There's a framed embroidery piece at the top of the stairs
my mom made it before I was even born.

If a child lives with anger,
he learns to be angry.

If a child lives with violence,
he learns to be afraid.

If a child lives with acceptance,
he learns to be himself.

If a child lives with hope,
he learns to find love in the world.

And so on and so forth.
And I think about what I live with, exactly,
and I'm not sure that any of those fit at all.
I think it would be more like

If a child lives with acceptance of who they pretend to be,
he learns to lie about who he is constantly.

If a child lives with a family who yells, about anything, to anyone,
he learns to be silent.

If a child lives with constant prying into his personal life,
he learns to keep secrets.

If a child lives with sky-high standards,
he learns to push himself until he breaks.

If a child lives with overbearingness,
he learns to be passive.

If a child lives with more books than friends,
he learns to keep to himself.

If a child lives with a family that derides those who are different,
he learns to mold himself into something acceptable by any means necessary.

If a child lives with a family who doesn't take him seriously,
he learns to keep his dreams to himself.

If a child lives with a family that sweeps problems under the rug,
he learns to heal himself.

If a child lives with a family who doesn't talk,
he learns to write poetry.

If a child lives with a father who he sees intermittently,
he learns to appreciate his company.

If a child lives with a family that laughs,
he learns to find humor in the world.

If a child lives with choices open to him,
he learns to choose.

If a child lives with a group of people who are all completely different,
thrown together by fate,
who can't even make sense of each other
because they all have pasts the others don't know about,
who, even though they don't know each other at all,
somehow make it work,
and manage to care about one another,
and manage to love one another,
he learns to find love everywhere in the world.