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Letter to my future teenaged daughter

January 4, 2012

Driving to the ski hill, I sneak a peek at my daughter in her car seat.  She’s wearing my oversized headphones, listening to music on my mp3 player.  She still loves Bobs & Lolo and the Kerplunks, but recently she’s been asking for music I like too.  Right now it’s Ryan Adams.  Melancholy stuff, and I watch her watching the rain stream down the window; both of us are lost in thought.

My mind’s eye sees her clearly as a brooding teenager.  She’s tall and lanky, and beautiful because of an inner confidence that I’m in awe of.  She’s naturally athletic.  She won the genetic lottery with muscles born for speed.  She’s a cross-country runner and competitive cross-country skier.  She is part of that tribe of sporty girls who do each others’ hair and can make fart noises with their armpits as well as the boys, who tease each other mercilessly but are also fiercely loyal.  But she is also, of course, flirtatious and teasing with boys.  She will date, have relationships, and have deep, confused feelings about the opposite sex.  This is what I want to tell her:

You will see that boy playing drums in the school band, the one whose bangs fall over his eyes and who wears a leather jacket.  He will seem mysterious and cool in his aloofness. Precisely because he’s not like anyone you’ve ever known, you’ll want to know what it’s like to talk to him, to hang out with him and find out what kind of music he listens to.  You might buy a skateboarding magazine because you’ve seen him carrying a skateboard under his arm.  Or maybe you’ll fall for a sporty guy.  You and your friends will go to his games and your heart will do backflips when he scores, or gets crushed.  Maybe you’ll meet him and his friends afterwards for pizza and his smell of boy b.o. smothered in Brut will be like pheromones to your tender moth heart.

Do not believe the boy when he tells you that his balls will swell to twice the normal size, or that he won’t be able to pee for days, or whatever, if you don’t touch him.  Enjoy your body, but know that you do not have to have intercourse to be intimate.  Never, never, never have unprotected sex.  Period.  I’ll tell you why: STI’s or unplanned pregnancy will change your life forever.  I have known amazing women who have suffered because they gave away the power of looking after their body to a sexual partner.  One contracted genital herpes from a cheating boyfriend, another had an abortion after conceiving during a one-night stand.  It’s just not worth it.  You may think this guy is the one, and he’s not sleeping with anyone else, and neither are you, and you’re going to be in a monogamous relationship for like, at least six months, so it would be okay with this guy….nuh uh.  No one else can look after your health and your body except you.  Never compromise your integrity.

Once I stood in the fitting room of a store I usually like to shop at.  I’d gone in with enough money to buy one new article of clothing, but would have splurged on two if that magic shopping chemistry happened.  I tried on armloads of things, but nothing fit or looked good.  I stood there trying to find one thing to buy, because I felt bad for walking out of there without buying anything.  I felt like the salesperson had gone to all that trouble to show me things she thought I’d like, and if I left empty-handed she’d think I was just a typical broke teenager, wasting her time.  When it dawned on me that I was actually thinking of wasting $50 just so the salesperson wouldn’t hate me, I felt intensely angry at myself.  I didn’t owe her anything! And I wasn’t there to help her make her quota, I was there to find something that made me feel beautiful, something I would be proud to wear for years!  Remember that you don’t owe anyone anything.  Even if someone buys you dinner.  Even if someone pays for dinner and a movie and takes you for a drive to a nice spot overlooking the city, or a lake, or with a nice view of the constellations.  You are perfectly within your rights to ask a date to drive you home and you can say goodnight with a smile if the magic chemistry isn’t there.

Finally, I watch you nurture your dolls and know that you will be an amazing mother.  Someday you will choose a partner and you two will build a nest and start a family.  He may be a drummer, or pursue sports obsessively, but make sure he also has a plan to support a family.  Men and women are so intensely different, but we are like left and right feet: we need each other to move forward.  You will need to let your partner support you while you raise your wee ones.  Find someone strong who can share the load.  In the words of Juno‘s dad, “Junebug, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly who you are.”  You are witty, funny, caring, beautiful and bright.  You deserve someone who loves that you snort when you laugh and cry when you’re overtired, someone who will love your cooking but who will never shirk kitchen duties.  Someone who will lie beside you and listen to your dreams, who will cheer you on, and dance to the music that moves you.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 13, 2012 9:15 am

    This is absolutely amazing. I think it is the perfect letter to your daughter when she’s old enough to understand it’s contents. It’s almost exactly what I would’ve wanted to hear when I was that age.

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