Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A letter to my daughter and my son

I was clearing out my office this week when I came across a box I hadn't opened in a while. It was filled with the kinds of things writers save: Pages torn from a notebook, magazine clippings, a brown paper lunch sack with a scribbled grocery list on one side and notes for the novel I never quite finished on the other.

In the box, I found that novel - with its paper-clipped sections, it's marginalia in blue, red, purple and green ink. There was also, perhaps the most precious, a note, written to my daughter when she was three.

It's handwritten in the loose, barely legible style I employ when my thoughts are moving faster than my pen. As I read it now, I am filled with mother love - for, though much has changed, my little girl is 19 now, the advice and the feeling remains the same.

It could also have been written, with few adjustments for gender, to her brother, Max. He's 22 now - and everything I wrote then - and copied, word for word, here, goes for him, too.


Dear Katie (and Max),

Now that you are three (and 5), there are some things you should know.

1) Your body is your own. No one, not even me or Daddy, has the right to touch you in a way that you don't want to be touched. Though at three you may find it hard to understand or enforce this rule - as you grow you will gain confidence and you will get taller and stronger and learn to push people away.

2) No hitting. Unless someone hits you. Then, hit back (and make it count) or leave. Immediately.

3) When you see something you don't like, speak up. Firmly, but with love. Don't worry if someone doesn't like what you've said. Say it anyway.

4) Spend time thinking about God. Spend time thinking about time. Spend time looking at the sky.

5) Nothing is as good as it looks on TV - especially life.

6) You can do anything you want. Anything. Make sure to do something you like.

7) Be prepared to meet what life brings to you. As my mother taught me, always wear clean underwear.

8) You will attract what you expect. Expect to be happy, healthy and successful.

9) Your brother (sister) loves you. Even though he's more interested in his friends right now, you are his sister, his first best friend. That will always come first.

10) Other girls are not the enemy. (This will mean more later.)

11) Neither are boys. (Boys are shy and scared sometimes, just like girls. If you want a boy to like you, be nice to him. Help him to feel comfortable about himself.)

12) There's so much more to the world than the mall. Make sure that you travel. Even if Daddy and I don't manage to take you to see it all, see as much of the world as you can.

13) Do the best you can. That's all anyone should ask of you.

14) Be nice. But not too nice.

15) Your body can heal itself. Avoid drugs. Sleep is usually the best medicine. Tea with honey is good medicine, too.


- When you sleep at a friend's house, if you have to get up in the middle of the night, make sure the seat is down so you don't fall in. And don't forget to flush.

- I love you and I will always be interested in what you have to show me, to tell me. Even if I seem distracted, I'm here for you.

With all my heart,



Sammy said...

That letter is beautiful and is/will be relevant through out their entire life.
As someone who recently lost his mother, I started drafting a letter to my children (10, 12, & 13). Writing in the midst of a recession has helped me better articulate the value of love, pure non-materialistic love, the kind of love you have at the time you witness your baby's first breath. Perhaps one day soon I will be brave enough to finish my letter (mostly do to your inspiring letter), and we could start random children's advise wall posts. Something like Lessons from the Cradle, or Footsteps to Follow. I would bet that most people who sit and think, really think about what they wish for their children, will soon discover what they have always wanted for themselves as well. I think doing this would bring us one step closer to Maslow's "self-actualization", which brings us a few steps closer to self-growth, thus becoming better parents. Thanks for the wonderful post!

WhoRublog said...

This is really special and I hope it inspires other parent to write a letter to their own kids. It doesn't matter what age they are, the wisdom should be welcomed.

Dian Reid said...

What a beautiful letter!! Kids of any age should have access to this kind of note, this kind of love from his/her parents.

Thanks for sharing your love.