I lied to you last week. When we were driving in the car, and there was nothing but the road and our thoughts to keep us company, you asked me some hard questions. I could tell your brain was grappling with new truths you didn’t quite know what to make of. You were thinking about death and wondering if the people and animals you love will die. When I told you, “yes” I could feel how you lost a bit of your innocence. You were bereft thinking about losing loved ones. So when you asked me if children ever die, I lied to you. And I know I made the right decision. When you shared your fear of growing up, I knew that some part of you was wishing you wouldn’t have to continue to learn about the sad things in life. I think you were asking me to shield you just a bit longer. I meant it when I said you can grow up as slowly as you need to, and that we aren’t going anywhere. I promise not to rush you.
I promise to try my best to show you through my words and actions that it’s possible to be both gentle and fierce.
I didn’t expect you to explore such tough questions at such a young age, and I’m so sorry that your curiosity and keen awareness have led you into murky waters you aren’t sure how to navigate. I wish I could wrap your tender heart in bubble wrap. I too wish you didn’t have to grow up and learn sad realities. I wish you could stay innocent and carefree forever. I know what it’s like to be a sensitive soul, and I know there are things about our world that will make your heart ache. I know what it’s like to feel deeply. Right now I can still protect you from some things. The older you get, the more you'll learn about the beauty and tragedy of life. I don’t want your heart to harden, and I don’t want you to stop caring. When life has sharp edges and you feel the pains of the universe weighing heavy on you, I want you to stay open and loving. My wish for you is that you learn resilience to balance your sensitivity and a sense of justice to drive your empathy. When faced with intolerance, I hope you can feel a stirring deep within you to stand up for what you know is right and true. I hope you meet suffering with creativity and compassion. I hope that I can teach you what I’ve learned about life: that sensitivity without action will overwhelm you, but that it’s the sensitive people who are able to make great changes in the face of injustice. I hope you know you have the power to help others if you can learn to trust your own strength. I hope you never let the world convince you that there's something wrong with you because the things that make you unique are the same qualities we revere in leaders and visionaries.
I promise to do everything I can to help you. I promise to try my best to show you through my words and actions that it’s possible to be both gentle and fierce. I promise that I’ll never try to toughen you up. I promise to support you when you need it and challenge you when you can’t see your potential. I promise that I’ll try to give you the tools to protect yourself without becoming jaded. I promise to teach you that you are strong and capable, and that the world needs people exactly like you. As Dr. Laura Markham says, “At the core, every choice is between love and fear.” When faced with the choice, I hope you choose love.