Today is your birthday, precious niece of mine. Well, actually, it was a few days ago, but you’ll notice as you get up there in age that sometimes things don’t go exactly as you planned. I obviously intended to write this a week ago but other obligations got in my way. My first piece of advice to you on your 8th birthday? Relish being an 8-year-old. Once you hit double digits time starts spinning much faster and you begin wondering where it all went. Things get complicated. Obligations multiply. Life gets trickier.
I’m speaking to you frankly because you’re not a baby anymore, and I think you can take it.
Not only are you not a baby anymore, but I’m guessing that in a year or two you’ll be a foot taller than me. That’s hard for me to believe, and even a little tough to digest. These past eight years have probably moved at the speed of molasses for you, but like I said, time moves much quicker when you get older like me.
To me, it feels like only yesterday that I got the call from your daddy early one morning.
“Allison’s here,” he said so proudly into the phone. Man, that was a good day.
And you’ve given our family so many more of those. You’re our greatest source of joy.
But I’m not here to make your head swell by telling you what a sensational person you’re shaping up to be. If I was going to do that, we’d be here all day. No. My mission today is to give you some keen, earnest advice about life. Not because I think I’ve got it all figured out (trust me kid, I’ve got miles to go), but because I’ve been listening to that song “Ooh La La” a lot; the one with the chorus that rings: “I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger.”
So here goes. The stuff I wish I knew when I was younger. And don’t worry; this isn’t your gift. That’s still coming in the mail.
#1: Don’t get weird about food. Don’t restrict or deny. Don’t punish or withhold. That potato chip looks good, doesn’t it? Chew, swallow, enjoy–that’s what it’s there for. It’s okay to eat those–maybe not everyday–but sometimes. Remember: Extremes= bad. Moderation= good. This formula applies to a lot of other things too.
#2. Hit the pool everyday during your summer vacations. This is your shot.
I’ve never met an adult with such a luxury. Not even a rich one.
#3: I know you love your electronic toys, but be aware that when you’re my age and start reflecting on your greatest childhood memories, none of yours will include any of them. Never choose to play with a screen when you have the option of spending time with an actual person. Also: I know it’s not up to me, but try not to sign up for a Facebook account until you’re like, I don’t know… 30?
#4: Learn how to cook some stuff. Not because you’re a girl, and that’s what girls are supposed to do, but because you’re a human and humans need to eat everyday to stay alive. It’s good to know how to do things for yourself. Nothing wrong with getting help from others, but you’re capable of anything. Get started early–you’ll impress your friends and thrill your parents.
# 5: Keep rockin’ the bold fashion choices. You’re eight.
You can get away with pretty much anything. Werk it.
#6: Keep making this face. It’s your golden ticket. A lot of peoples’ smiles light up a room; yours can brighten a galaxy.
And don’t give up streamer handlebars on your bike until it’s absolutely necessary.
|Jason + Anna Photography
#7: You’re so pretty. Yay! Embrace it, feel confident, enjoy being a girl.
But then get over it, and fast because nobody likes a pretty jerkface. Don’t be a mean girl. Ever.
#8. Go easy on those curves, lady. You almost bucked me off last time.
But I wholeheartedly endorse your fearlessness.
#9: If you have the chance to dance with your daddy, take it.
#10: Remember how loved you are. Every day, all the time, and for so many reasons.
Even if you never take any of my silly advice.
(PS: If you need more life lessons from Auntie Jenn, here’s last year’s letter