Welcome. You're only three days old, so before we get too far, I want to set a few things straight.
First of all, your mother is a queen. We will always refer to her as "your royal highness" and bowing is not out of the question. She deserves gifts and cookies and surprise parties. She'll give you more than your fair share of these, and you will spend your life trying to make it up to her. You won't be able to.
Next is Christmas. Yes, Christmas. It's that important, because it highlights all the wonderful things in life we so often forget: magic, faith, and awe. Come December 24th, you'll be allowed—nay, required—to shake each and every gift under the tree that belongs to you. No matter how much Mom may protest, this is every child's right, and I won't deprive you.
From the ages of 3–13, I will instruct you to play—every day without exception. To imagine, dream, and journey. If you ever fall short of this expectation, I will promptly send you out the door into the great time warp also known as the back yard. It's a daily discipline, like brushing your teeth, that you need to keep in your later years. Because when I'm old and gray, I'll need you to remind me to do it again.
Let's talk guns and dolls for a moment. I honestly don't care which you play with. What I want you to do is creatively explore this great big world that has so much to offer. And as you do, I hope you understand you are more than what you do and the labels the world will try to place on you.
Friday nights will be movie nights. We'll fortify ourselves with blankets and protect ourselves with flashlights. We'll pop more than enough popcorn and spill half of it on the floor. We'll laugh and giggle and stay up later than we should. But that’s okay, because this is movie night.
As for learning, we’ll start with books. Son, you and I will flop onto our bellies in the living room with an oversized copy of Where the Wild Things Are and begin to do one of our favorite things: read. I'll open the hardbound cover, and it'll creak a little, because that's what good books do. Then you'll turn each page slowly—your very first job—and I'll speak in voices you've never heard me use. We'll both roar and howl and get in touch with our wild sides. And we’ll both be swept up into another reality, but one that’s no less true.
All right, next is a tough one: discipline. Yes, your mother and I will correct you, and it will be hard. You won’t like it, because sometimes we don't want what's best for us. But we need others to guide us, and that’s part of my job. I'll do this the best that I can, but as quickly as possible, I'll point you to your real Father, the one in Heaven who made you. You and I will talk about Him a lot—about how much He loves us. We'll learn about His Son, too.
Next is your heritage. It's a rich one. Did you know your great-grandpa was a playwright? And that your uncle is a pastor? Not to mention your Irish forefathers, your Cherokee roots, and the strong Southern lineage that runs through your blood. You are a mixture of so many wonderful places, people, and professions. Appreciate them, because they all contribute to you and where you came from. And although your past doesn't dictate your future, it can inform it.
Every Saturday will be pancake day. We'll make a mess of the kitchen in fifteen minutes and spend five hours cleaning it up. Pancakes are your mom's favorite; you must remember this. We will squeeze thirty-six oranges into three glasses of juice, and it will be worth it. Then we'll serve breakfast to mom in bed—because this is the day she gets to sleep in, the day we remind her she's a queen. And we’ll throw a few chocolate chips into the batter just for fun, and eat ours on the porch, listening to the birds sing.
I want you to play a few sports, because I never did. I don't care if you become a jock, but I want you to learn about teamwork and sacrifice, that part of life is learning how others are counting on you.
Lastly, I expect you to work—not labor and toil, but wear yourself down doing what you love. You were made to contribute to the world. God gave you gifts expecting you to give them to others. Honestly, I can't wait to see what they are. Maybe it will be music or art. Maybe an analytical mind or inquisitive nature. Who knows? What I do know is they will be your gifts—and only yours.
Our gift, of course, is you. And I will remind you of that—as best I can—every single day for the rest of life.