Today, you are a two year old. You were born into tumultuous times, my little darling, and I hope I can protect you from them. Last year, a series of civil revolutions and rebellions broke out in the Middle-East. They’re calling it the Arab Spring, I wonder if you’ll read about it in your history books. I remember the Berlin Wall coming down, I can see a bulldozer in my minds eye. I can see a man holding a brick from that wall, in his hand. It is night, and he is crying. I know you won’t remember the events of this spring rebellion that lasted through summer and winter, but know that you were alive at the beginning.
You are a world away from that conflict, though technology and global markets have created a shrinking world. I hope you’re far enough away to be safe. I don’t know.
You were born into tumultuous times at home, too, and for the first year you only wanted your mother. Now I’ve won a piece of your heart, and I’ll do everything to protect it.
Last night you lay in bed, and I hugged you and told you I was going to go. You said “no, sleep with me!” and I said I couldn’t, that I had laundry, and needed to clean.
I was laying next to you, on my stomach. I told you I would be in the living room, and that you could call if you needed me. You climbed onto my back, and laid down and said “I need you. Stay with me.”
That is you, precious girl. You are the sweetest. You love finding snails, you ask to do it as soon as you see me. And you’re afraid, in tight walkways, that they’ll get you. But you’re not afraid when I hold your hand, and you stop saying “snails get me!” when I wrap my fingers around yours.
You only like the insides of sandwiches. Lunch meat or peanut butter it makes no difference, first you take it apart, then you eat it from inside.
You love your sister, but sometimes you hit her. Sometimes you pull her hair. I think you’re pretty even on abuse, though.
You give the best hugs. Ever.
You are so silly, and playful, and you want to be just like Abby.
You’re talking in complete sentences, but you still deliver long speeches in a language known only to yourself, when you want to. I wish I could hold these moments inside of me forever. I wish I could hold you, right now, and protect you from all the world.
This summer we will swim, all the time. You’ll learn to ride a little bike, and to count to twenty, and all of your ABC’s. Things will change. I promise that all the changes will be for the better. I wonder if you’ll see them that way.
You love beans and rice, and you’re more willing to try new things than your sister ever was.
When we say our prayers every night, Abby prays to dream about Ariel. You pray to dream about kitties and doggies. I pray to dream about you and your sister.
Will you care about any of this? Probably not. What would you care about? Do you want to know more about your father? Will you wonder what I was thinking, when I raised you? I am twenty eight. This year, in January, someone asked “By what right” I expected something. My answer, in part, was “By being a man.” For the last decade I have tried to understand what it means to be a man in this world. For a time I thought it was proved by doing things that showed maturity. Then by success, excellence. Later, by mastery. I’ve had a lot of ideas about manhood, and I’ve only just figured out the secret. Though you’ll be a woman, maybe the secret will be useful to you: You are a man when you know, in your heart, that it is so.
That doesn’t seem a very useful kind of secret, but there it is. You are a man when you declare yourself one, and when you believe it. If you can speak with conviction, and have no doubts, you will gain the confidence of adulthood. The rewards of manhood are few but great, the responsibilities are weighty. I would have stayed a boy, were it not for you and your sister. I’m glad you came along, to motivate me.
I said you couldn’t have doubts, and that’s true. You will have a lot of doubts, but you can’t doubt what you are. I don’t know how to teach you this, but I’ll do my best.
I love you more every day. Seeing you become you is a gift.