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A Letter to My Daughter on her 9th Birthday

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If last year is any indication, by this time next year we'll have a pet unicorn

My Love,

How you've grown this last year. Even physically, which is a rarity.

It's been an interesting year. The last few months, particularly. It seems that overnight we switched from child to teenager. Talking to your friends online has a lot to do with our feeling that you're a teenager. And the dramas that ensue are real: arguments over every possible little thing (like who causes the most arguments), tears, anger, and regrets. You've given me a lesson in relationships.

The world is going a bit crazy right now. And sometimes I wonder what I want you to have before I send you out into it. Theoretically, 9-year-olds are capable of walking the streets on their own. Practically, you have a while to go, but the theory makes me stop and think.

I want you to have a mind of your own. Well, check. The thing you hate most is being told what to do, and you rebel against instructions at any opportunity, even with dancing, your favourite activity. Your arguments have improved from tantrums to litigations, but ultimately, you know what you want and you nearly always figure out a way to get it. We moved from trying to get you to do what we think is good for you to persuade you that it was your idea anyway.

I'd like you also to be kind and listen to other people. You're incredibly kind to your friends, but we still have to work on the listening. Particularly, listening even when you're angry, scared, or stressed—stepping outside of yourself and into someone else's shoes. It's ok; we have time. For now, being sensitive to another human being's plight is a great start, especially in today's world.

And finally, when you go out into the world, I want you to know your secure base is right here. I've been impressed lately with the courage you've shown in telling us things that make you uncomfortable, things that you have done wrong and want to fix, and things that you think should improve. We've been trying to model listening (see the last paragraph), but being cooped up for months on end has worn our patience thin. I'm trying, and I hope you'll understand one day that trying is all we can sometimes do.

This year, I wish for you to find balance: between being a good friend and being true to yourself; between following the rules and thinking about them critically; between talking to people and safeguarding your boundaries. And as always, I wish for you to be happy and healthy in mind and body.

Love you always,



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