Well… 27 months and 2 days.
I’m REALLY feeling bad about this, since I’ve missed the actual date a couple months in a row now. I know that when you’re an adult with a kid of your own, you’ll understand, but as a kid… well, I would have been disappointed.
This month has gone so fast. You’ve surprised us in a number of ways involving memory and vocabulary. You’ve quoted most of an episode of “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” at us for the better part of the month… one specific episode, actually, and we’re simultaneously entertained and really, really tired of it.
You got sick earlier this month, too. It was just a passing virus, we think, but we took you to the doctor when you ran a fever for a few days. You were so well behaved — thanks to your love of “Doc McStuffins,” you asked the doctor to check your ears and your eyes and to listen to your heartbeat. You also insisted on getting a pair of the purple gloves the nurses wore.
We finally had a long-delayed play date for you with the daughter of some good friends of ours. You two had typical toddler problems (“That’s MY MINNIE MOUSE!”) but you worked them out well enough that you were inviting her to come with you to play with other toys in another room. They gave you a gift of foam letters and numbers that stick to the side of the bathtub, and tonight you astounded me by independently and correctly identifying nine of them, with no prompting. Although you also announced that you were going to “sit on da K. I put da K on my buns,” so perhaps we aren’t necessarily seeing the beginnings of genius here.
You’ve started singing along with songs. You’ve started putting on character voices when you announce that you’re “Minnie Sage.” You want us to play characters in your imaginary stories.
You also, this month, have been incredibly whiny, especially when you’re hungry.
“Do you want a hot dog?”
“No, I don’t WIKE hot dog!”
“Do you want a bowl of cereal with milk?”
“No, I don’t WIKE ceweah miwk!”
“Do you want a yogurt?”
“NO I DON’T WIKE YOGUHT!”
“Do you want pizza?”
“NO I DON’T WIKE PIZZA!”
“What DO you want, Sage?”
“I so vewy hungwy.”
This month, you said your very first, “I don’t WIKE Daddy.” I was a little surprised that I didn’t get even a little bit offended, because no parent wants to hear that. It actually helped that you had just announced that you didn’t wike pretty much anything else, ever; I knew not to take it to heart.
But this month, you did something else for the first time. I kissed you goodnight and headed for the door to go do some improv; you still had an hour or so before bedtime and you were done with supper, so you had tons of toys to play with and you probably could have talked your mother into letting you watch some more Mickey Mouse… but instead, you ran full speed toward me as I reached the door, yelling, “No, Daddy, wait! I need to come WIV you!”
That one, I’ll admit, I took to heart a bit… in a very good way.
My advice for you this month: adapt. Learn to adapt. It’s the key to survival. I heard a story today about a village in Alaska that is just now barely beginning to recover from a massive oil spill that happened 25 years ago, and the reporter referred to the citizens of the town back then being “no longer in control of their own destiny.” And that’s not true. Every single moment presents you with a choice of whether to stay with the status quo or to find a way to improve your situation. That doesn’t mean that things will always improve. Life happens. Crime happens. Oil spills happen. All sorts of things happen that will knock you down, but when that happens, you are still in control of your own destiny. Sometimes it will be hard choices; sometimes it will be choosing whichever option will be less painful in the long run. The citizens of that town did have a choice — they chose whether or not to stay there, whether or not to move, whether or not to try to find new jobs somewhere else, whether or not to keep the houses they loved or to face the prospect of a new life in a new place…
I’m not saying that everyone has chosen to be where they are. That’s a falsehood that many people cling to in the hopes that we can shift blame to other people when bad things happen. It’s a theory on poverty and addiction that doesn’t begin to describe the real depth of the problems. I’m also not saying that nobody has chosen to be where they are; our choices shape the world as much as the world shapes our choices.
What I’m saying is that your destiny is in your hands, and you will always be every bit in control of it as you ever were, because your destiny is something you control day by day, and sometimes hour by hour or minute by minute. Whenever you feel like you don’t have a choice, remind yourself: you do have a choice, and you just have to decide which set of consequences are the ones you want to live with. Once you’ve made that decision, there’s no point in moping about the consequences that you get; you chose them, and now you get a whole new choice of how to deal with those consequences.
So, as I always tell you, be who you are. Make your choices, and keep making them, and shape your destiny the way you want to shape it. The setbacks will happen on their own, so don’t go looking for them; when they happen, make the choice to fight through them, and above all else, make the choice to fight them on your terms.
I have no idea if or when you’ll read these letters. Maybe this is too deep or too dark, or maybe you’re reading them and thinking, “Well, duh, Dad. I figured this out years ago.” I don’t know. But I know this: I write these letters for the same reason that I check on you while you’re sleeping and I steal snuggles whenever I can.
Because you’re my sweet little girl, now and always; and even if you ever get to the point where you actually don’t “wike” me, I will always be your Daddy… and I will always love you.
Your mother and I do love you, Sage, more than you can understand. I know it’s more than you can understand because it’s still more than I can understand. We love you so much!