Dear Sweet Child O’Mine,
At the moment you are barely two years old, and you consist of feet much too big for the rest of your spindly toddler body, wide blue eyes, and unruly curly blonde hair. You are a daredevil, a boundary-tester, a lover of vowels, of counting, of finger paints and bubbles (“bob-ohs”), and you would give anything to meet DJ Lance from Yo Gabba Gabba. You’re a mess, a delight, a baby still. In your pretend grown-up jammies of Hanes Tighty Whiteys (baby-sized) and oversized t-shirt, you make me wistful for my own childhood.
One day you will be a man, and this letter is intended for the moment that you become one. What age might you be? I can only guess if you’ll be the type of man to mature early, with wise thoughts and a compassionate soul, or if you’ll be a little slower to reach adulthood, making many pit stops and mistakes along the way. I look forward to your journey through this crazy, mixed-up, confusing world, and it is my hope that I can offer you insight and guidance as you go.
I hope that you will always remember that from the moment you were born, you had privilege. I hope you realize that your life has been incredibly lucky in so many ways. Yes, there have been hard times. We are not as lucky or as blessed as many, but at the same time, we are so much more so than others. The road hasn’t always been easy, but we’ve navigated it as best we could. I want you to always acknowledge that there are those who have not had the same advantages, the same luck, the same societal benefits that you will receive. Always give people a fair break, and never try to judge them for their circumstances or choices. You can never know what truly lies inside a person, and we are not all treated equally in this world. Always try to be compassionate, understanding, and fair. Never discriminate, or fall victim to the shallow and ignorant world of prejudice. Love everyone equally, and give people a fighting chance, or at the very least, a fair break. Don’t ever let your soul embrace apathetic bitterness and resentment.
It is important that you know that everyone is deserving of love. No matter what religion, race, sexual preference, gender, financial status, level of education or any other societal label, we are all a member of the human family, and we are all equal on that score. Always treat people with kindness, and never let ignorant perceptions of others cloud your view. Embrace the happiness of others, and share in their joy. You will be all the happier for it.
My promise to you is that I will always treat you with respect, understanding and compassion. Whatever in life makes you happy will make me happy. Whatever you choose to become, to do with your life – the choices you make, the people you choose to love and the man you choose to be – you are accepted, and you are loved unconditionally. I promise you that.
I hope you’ll never raise your hands or your voice in anger. It is a coward’s way out. Be a man you can be proud of, and resolve your issues with sound, logical arguments and caring, compassionate words. Compromise is an important concept I hope you’ll be familiar with. Nourish your relationships, and hold those you love in the highest of esteem. Never resort to violence or abuse. The Golden Rule, clichÃ© that it is, rings true: Treat Others As You Want to Be Treated. If you adhere to nothing else in this life, adhere to that.
You’ll fall along the way. You’ll make mistakes, and do things that make you feel shame later. You will question what is right and wrong, you’ll ask the wrong questions from time to time. It’s all part of the journey of self-discovery. Learn as much as you can about the world around you.
And for god’s sake, drink more water. That’s one I’ve never been able to master.
Before I close the storybook tonight,
Let’s paint a picture now of what we read.
All the colors that exist in sight,
Or all the ones that don’t exist instead.
Possibility is limitless to you,
Of that I will make sure, don’t ever doubt.
Pursuing whatever you may feel is true,
Whatever makes you laugh, or dance about.
So many things I want to paint for you,
We must invent the colors to begin.
The greens, the blues, the red, the yellow hue,
The unique and rosy paleness of your skin.
They don’t know the magic that we know.
For I have taught since you first began,
Outside your eyes the choices always grow,
Hold the paintbrush steady in your hand!
A wealth of trees, of sky, of nature green,
Water rushing beyond some twisted scape.
Pages upon pages is the scene,
The storybook where you and I escape.
I’ll be your co-artist, and help you trace the lines,
The boundaries through which your days will rush.
Until my own are gone, the times
When my withered hand can’t hold the brush.
This story is forever, always you,
It’s pages will brittle-crack, but remain there
Until the days when you yourself are old
Your eyes all smiles, your head so white of hair.
You’ll pass it on with care to your own child,
Removing the splinters along your way,
And begin to paint again; and all the while,
Knowing that this moment cannot stay.
Together you will carry on our story,
Amazing tales, even after I am gone.
But go back a page, or two or three,
And you will see my character lives on.
picture credit: lucylearns.com