My beloved daughter,
Today, you are 4 years old. Happy birthday.
In honor of your rapid transformation from baby to toddler to big girl, as you so frequently remind me, I’d like to share some important advice I’ve picked up along the way. Consider this a birthday gift even more important with those pretty packages you’re eager to unwrap.
1. Be kind to your brother. No matter what. He’s your best friend now and will be your ally when you are grown-up. You share a life story with him that no one else can replicate; honor that gift. (In four-year-old language: let him play with your toys.)
2. Remember who you are. This advice comes via your godfather. His mother repeated this short and powerful phrase as her way to remind him to always be true to himself and his values. I pass it along with the same intention. Life will give you many choices, and I won’t always be there to help you make the right decision. But, if you remember who you are, and all that Daddy and I have taught you, you will stay on course.
3. Forgive people who have wronged you. This one is hard, I know, but it’s a must if you’re going to live a life of happiness not bitterness. Make a concerted effort to let go of cruelty, disrespect, and hurt. Fill the places they want to reside with compassion, forgiveness, and thoughtfulness.
4. Share. Whether it’s your toys, your imagination, or your joyful spirit, be open to sharing parts of yourself with the world. This may result in amazing opportunities and adventures you could not have foreseen, and that’s how life will be interesting.
5. Protect yourself. You know our rule that your snuggly, Ella, is just for you? You don’t have to share her with anyone? The same goes for YOU. Find ways to safeguard yourself from distractions and uselessness. Be fierce in protecting your inspiration and voice. Be healthy and treat your body well. In the long run, you’ll be so much better off if you take care of yourself.
I anticipate telling you what to do for many, many years to come. You’ll likely go through a period of rolling your eyes at me when I offer guidance; you may even ignore me. Eventually, I hope, though, you’ll know that every time I share a tip or suggestion, I do so with a love deep and true. And, one day, maybe, you’ll take this advice to heart and use it often, knowing I am with you.
I love you. Always and forever.