Dearest Emma aka Shandha,
Daddy sent you an email for your 11th birthday but I decided to capture it as a post in our blog journal here.
This is probably the sweetest gift a father could ever give to his daughter, in my humble opinion. Who knows, 10, 20 years from now, you may come back and read this and appreciate it that much more. I hope that these words guide and comfort you through the years.
We love you!
——— message ———-
From: Jack <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, Mar 09, 2014 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Happy 11th birthday, my beautiful daughter!
To: Emma aka SandhaFabulous
Cc: Aye <email@example.com>
I call you my beautiful daughter, and you know I’m not focused on your amazing cuteness, right? Honestly, you are the brightest, warmest, and most enthusiastic person (I said person) that I know. Really! Maybe it’s being 10, oops, 11, that plays a big part of who you are, but I think you’re an amazing person. Oh, remember, when we get upset about you, it’s because we love you, so don’t ever think you’re disappointing us as a person. Some things you do might disappoint us, but you are not a disappointment, not at all.
Okay, back to what I was saying. Oh yes, I think you are so brave, and have so much fun in living life – when it comes to food, music, sports, drama of course, you just do it because you enjoy it. You are also compassionate, considerate, thinking of others and how they feel. You are very observant, seeing things we didn’t think a young child would pick up, but you notice them. Mommy and I talk about you a lot when you’re in school, did you know that? We talk about how great you are, in case you’re wondering.
Don’t be too worried about tests, okay? They are not “do or die” as they say in sports. There will never be a test where your life would be ruined if you did not do well. Tests are a way of finding out how much you have learned, that’s it! Just like a video game score. So, to get over any nervousness you might have about tests and how scary they are, and just think about that. It’s about what you’ve learned. So, if you prepared, kept up with daily homework, then your nerves will be more calm because you will feel confident. The goal is to show on a test the same amount you actually learned. So if you get so nervous that you have trouble concentrating or thinking, then get a low score, that low score does not reflect your true knowledge. You have nothing to prove to us, or to teachers. Tests are yours, for you to test yourself, really. Like the shot put, do you get freaked out by that competition? Probably not, but it’s still a test to see how far you can throw that ball, right? What’s the difference? A test is a test, a high score doesn’t make you a better person, a low score doesn’t make you a bad person either.
Your mommy and I make a big deal about being honest, right? We kind of freak out when we learned you weren’t as honest about something as you should have been. Well, it’s because it’s a big deal, for you as a person. We just don’t want you to create habits where lying is so easy and smooth, because there are people who lie just because they can, even if there’s no reason for it. It will end up hurting you, your family, friendships, jobs, and more. It’s better to be upfront about something, admit it, take responsibility, than to hide something and avoid it. Even famous adults have lied about something in public and later got caught lying. They should have said “I’m sorry” right away, admit they did something, and they would be in less trouble than lying about it. People are very forgiving, and doing something wrong isn’t the end of the world, but lying on top of it only makes it worse.
Don’t worry about what you’ll be when you grow up. Be a kid and have fun, playing, and with school, too. Enjoy school, and soak it all up. Even if you decided today, you want to be a professional _________, it’s okay if later on you want to try something different. Life is short, and some people stick with one job their whole lives, and some people like to try different things their entire life. There’s no right or wrong way about this. Well, there are wrong ways, like becoming a chemistry teacher who decides to make a drug lab because he thought he was dying of cancer… Okay, never mind that. The main thing is choose something you enjoy and feel passionate about. Don’t just so anything because it makes tons of money. If it’s something you love, it’s an honest job, and you make tons of money then great! But money isn’t everything – it’s important to have to be secure, and to buy things you need, pay for medical bills, travel, and so on, but mostly – do something you love.
I know we joke about (well maybe mommy’s not joking) wanting you to stay a kid, but I am very curious and looking forward to seeing what kind of adult you’ll become. I think you’ll be … wait for it… AWESOME! Not awesome in a fake kind of way, like just saying it all the time doesn’t make a person awesome. I think you’ll be the kind of person others want to learn from, and be a good friend to you because of the type of person you are. I see you traveling the world, really understanding that there are millions of people suffering badly, really badly, and to always keep that in mind when living our lives. I know you’ll be responsible, caring about people, the environment, and a whole host of other issues. I hope, and think, you’ll be confident, and not believe in those advertisers and other people who will tell you that you are only beautiful if you use this type of makeup or that type of dress or shoes. I hope you won’t feel the need to do that against your own beliefs only to have certain friends accept you. I hope you’ll have friends who love you the way you are, the real you, not some made up fake you pretending to be something you are not. If you have to do something that’s uncomfortable to you, only to gain their friendship, then they weren’t good friend ‘material’ for you to begin with.
I was very nervous about the idea of raising a daughter compared to a son. You know why? Girls have to deal with so much more than boys – boys kind of have it easy. I believed that girls needed more protecting… but I’m not as worried now about you. I feel that you can take care of yourself about most things, like dealing with bullies, or people teasing and other stuff. We’ll be here as parents to help you through that, you still have your teen years to experience (ooh fun!). Seriously, you’ll be an ..wait for it… AWESOME… teen – that’s what I believe. Will you and me and mommy have fights along the way? Of course, that’s normal! No one can raise a teenager without fights, it’s part of growing up, and trying to become independent, and us as parents trying to be protective, so we’ll clash. But in the end, I think because you are so smart, and caring, that you’ll have great teenage years to come.
Plus you have mommy as a role model – she’s tough (shhhh, you know that), but you’ll love her for it later in life, trust me. Once you’re off on your own, living an independent life, you’ll be running back to mommy thanking her for being tough with you during your childhood. As for me? Well, I’m not as tough, but I do agree with mommy 99% of the time, only because she’s right 99% of the time. Heehee…
Hey kiddo, enjoy today. Enjoy NOW. Know what I mean? Enjoy life as it is right now. Don’t worry about the future, it’ll come no matter what. The only thing you can do is do what you need to do today. Being in year 6, age 11,that means having fun with friends, learning new things (like music and sports… and drama!), doing well in school, and enjoying living a different life than most kids back home in America. So, don’t worry about year 7, we’ll deal with it together when it comes around. That’s what parents are for, let us do the worrying for now.
I love you so much, ever since I saw you peek your face out when you were born (okay, that was a little icky), but from that day your eyes were soaking up everything in its sights – and you are still living that way now. Awesome.
March 11, 2014