Wednesday, October 12, 2016

To My Niece...

Dear Sweet Pea,

Has anyone told you today that you are special? If they haven't yet let me be the first to do that. Because you are so special. I need you to know that.

I wanted to write this letter to you because there are some pretty crazy things going on in the world today. And I'm worried that if you turn on the television or you listen to the radio or if you overhear grown-ups talking that you may become confused. Or you will hear something that you shouldn't have heard and wonder why those words were said or what they mean. And I think the best solution to that problem is to tell you some things you need to know.

You need to know that you are a girl. I'm sure that made you laugh because you already knew that! But there is more to being a girl than you "already know." You are a girl and because of that you are going to be told there are things you can't do. You are going to be told that there are things you can't be. And there are people who are going to tell you what you should be and what you should do. But the only voice you need to listen to is the one inside of you that says, "I can be anything I want to be." But it's not going to be easy Sweet Pea.

There are some boys out there that think being mean to girls is ok and they will laugh about it. There are some girls out there that think being mean to other girls is ok and they won't think twice about doing it. And I will let you know: Neither behavior is ok.

It is not ok for a boy to make fun of you. Don't ever let anyone tell you that it is. Some grown-ups may say "He is picking on you because he likes you." That's never ok. There are so many ways to show someone that you like them and hurting them with words or with hands is not one of them. I want you to know the word "no." Now don't get me wrong... When mom says to do your homework or your teacher says to listen in class you can't just say "no." But there is that little voice inside of you that will say, "This isn't right." I need you to listen to that voice. If someone wants a hug but you don't want to give one... Then you have the right to say the word "no." And remember that "no" means "no." Don't let anyone make you do anything you don't want to do. If someone in your class or a grown up makes you feel uncomfortable or you get a weird feeling inside that makes you think, "I don't feel this is the right thing" then you have the power to say that word: "No." You may be laughed at. You may be called names. You may be teased. But you just did one of the most powerful things a girl can do: You stood up for yourself. And no one can ever take that away from you. As a girl you have the power to stick up for yourself. That's important.

It is not ok for a girl to make fun of you (or to make fun of boys). There are some girls who don't understand this and they will say hurtful things to you. They will say mean words about other people and you won't understand why. You would think that other girls would know "the rules" that all girls should live by (be nice to one another) but some girls have reasons why they choose to be mean rather than be friendly. Please don't let these girls cause you harm. Their words are only that... words. And you have the power to say "no" to these girls too just in a different way. You have the power to say "No! You can't say those things to me because I deserve better than that." And you know what? You do! You deserve respect and kindness. There will be some girls who will do their best to make you think the worst of yourself. And that's not fair. You'll think, "I thought we were on the same team." It's in those situations I want you to remember these words: "Love wins." You may want to call them names right back. And you may want to hurt them as much as they are hurting you but the best thing you can do is hold your head up high and walk away. Use that pain that you feel and turn it into love. For every bad name they call you and every mean thing they do towards you do one act of kindness and love to even the score. They won't understand why you did it but I promise you that your heart will smile.

There are people on the news right now that are yelling at each other because they have different colored skin. There are two people who are fighting and saying horrible things because they each want to be President. There are people who are deliberately hurting other people because of what they believe in or the uniform that they wear to work. And you will see this and it will try to change your heart. But I don't want you to change because the world around you is full of chaos right now.

I want you to get lost on the banks of Plum Creek with Laura Ingalls Wilder. I want you to pick dandelions and make wishes on their seeds as you blow them into the wind. I want you to stare at the clouds and find all the animals and shapes that you can see. I want you to do cartwheels and catch fireflies in a jar. I want you to have heroes like Clara Barton and Moira Smith. I want you to have scraped knees and scabbed elbows but a tiara on your head if you want one. I want you to sing into a hair brush and put on concerts in the living room. I want you to admire the colors of nature like Anne of Green Gables and love your neighbor like Audrey Hepburn. I want you make mistakes and fall down. And then I want you to stand up and try again. I want you to have the confidence and strength of Rosie the Riveter and the style and grace of Holly Golightly. I want you to draw a line and then leap right over it until the boundaries you set for yourself are gone and all that awaits you are new challenges. I want you to grow up to be whatever your heart desires (even if that means changing your mind when your 32 years old). I want you to fall in love and I want you to fall out of it too. I want you to dream. I want you to succeed. I want you to be happy. I want you to love you. I want you to see the beauty in this world around you and to know that love will always win.

I don't know what this world holds in store for you Sweet Pea. I wish I did. But I can tell you that if you hold onto your sense of wonder, your respect for others, your sense of humor, a spirit fueled with strength and a heart filled with love then you're going to be ok. It won't be an easy journey but it will be a beautiful one. You are a girl and that is a wonderful gift you have been given. Don't let anyone dim the light that radiates from you. Like I said at the beginning of this letter: Has anyone told you today that you're special? I want the answer to that question to always be yes. Because you are. And every day when you wake up you need to look in the mirror and tell yourself "I am special and I am loved." And then I want you to go out and change the world in the wonderfully powerful way that you were born to change it.

Like a girl. 



Cindy Redemann said...

This is beautiful!!!!

Glengaryglenrose said...
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