7 Wishes for Not Yet Children

Dear future kiddo-o-mine, 

You're not conceived yet, and there isn't even a guarantee that you'll ever exist but I've known in my body since I turned 26 that I'd take care of some child someday.  The details aside, I wanted to think through what it would mean to parent a human on planet Earth.  Do not mistake this for hubris, I have no idea what I am doing but I have some ideas. 

The world you're coming into is brightly unstable, swollen with experience and emotion.  The little corner of it that you will live in is among the safest and richest of them all.  I hope that you see the other corners and learn how your brothers and sisters live so that you're aware of your own durability and resilience, and can support theirs.  I hope that you can see, truly see, others through difference, share with them, learn from them and eventually make it so that there is no "them" and only "us."  

I hope that you are brave and fearless but find a way to be gentle in your daring.  I have had my moments of bravery and they can be very lonely.  I've had my moments of meekness and, while there is company in silence, there is rarely comfort.    

I hope that you know your privilege but that it doesn't bring you distress.  If it brings you a sense of entitlement, know that your father and I will be quick to shut that down.  I hope that you take responsibility as an English-speaking white person of middle income and fortunate educational legacy to become aware of identity privilege but to not let it run your life.  I hope that your politics are honest and rooted in the lived experience of your global community. 

On your bodies:  People will look at you funny.  Your body will not match those of the other little girls and boys.  It will be big, and you will take up a lot of space.  People will remind you of this, even though it is absolutely none of their business.  People will expect more from you than your age can give.  The other children will make it a point of discussion, and sometimes it will hurt.  Love the guts out of the mean kids because that's something they could be missing.  Square your shoulders.  Look up.  Stand up straight.  That is your space to take.  Do not play small.  Tolerate no shame about your body.  Spend literally zero time thinking about your size, it is time you cannot get back and time much better spent building your capacity to move.  To play. To race.  To leap.    

On your minds:  The brightest learning moments in your life will probably not be in a classroom or lecture hall, if you're anything like your parents.  But learn to play that game, it's a good exercise in getting along in a way that will matter.  But don't stop at the classroom.  Experience will always teach you something.  Don't not start because you're afraid to fail.  Failing is good, as long as you're trying.  Be gentle with yourself, because we will be.  Work hard, because that's where you'll find your edge. 

On your hearts:  The most sustainable affairs are with your friends, your buddies, your unrelated sisters and brothers.  I don't mean romantic ones, though those are good too, but I mean the intimacy of a good rant with a safe person.  The intimacy created when you say to someone, "I need help with this" and they're there to give it without judgement.  They're there to troubleshoot, defend and reroute.  Your friends are everything.  As for your lovers, develop a tight filter but don't be afraid to jump into love because that's a pretty exciting ride.  We can discuss my mistakes when the time comes.  I know you may still repeat them or refashion them for your own trouble.  Whatever happens, you'll be fine.  

On drugs and sex: I hope we have a reasonable legal framework for the control of currently illegal substances by the time you're a teenager.  I hope by then there is a rational public conversation around drugs, including alcohol, and sex to deflate the elephants in the room.  I also hope the public sexual education curriculum serves you.  If you find yourself with questions about drugs or sex, go ahead and ask your friends or the internet.  I know you will no matter what I say.  But please also ask me. Not because I am a doctor, though that's convenient, but because these decisions should reflect your values in life, objective evidence about drugs and sex and your current social reality.  Addiction and suicide are part of your genetic legacy and this might come to bear on your own experience.  I want to be part of that conversation.          

On your career:  Your options are endless.  I have no idea what the world is going to look like when you're making career decisions, so I will preach no further on this except to say that there is joy in service and exploration. 

On your spirit: Play in the dirt.  Row boats outside and walk through forests.  I am pretty sure that's where my God lives. Maybe yours does too.

Travel light, kid.