If I should have a daughter,
I will not buy her Barbies because I don’t want her to grow up thinking that the only way to be beautiful is by being skinny, and blonde and tall.
So instead of dolls,
I will buy her Play Dohs and Legos and tons of papers and art materials so that early on she would realize how much potential she holds in her hands—how much beauty one person could create with the very little that was given.
And I will teach her how to swim without floating devices—how to bike without training wheels—so that she would understand that the only way to know how to keep your head above the water is by being in the water and the only way to know how to find perfect balance is by first experiencing some imbalance.
I want her to figure out that the kind of learning that sticks is the kind of learning that happens in between headaches and heartaches,
in between falling down and getting up, in between drowning and refusing to sink. So while I will shower her with books about science and poetry, unlike most fathers, I will push her outdoors so she would discover the joy of basking in the sunlight or dancing in the rain because if there is one thing that a childhood spent indoors has taught me is that you can only truly know the world by being out there in the world.
And instead of folklores, fables and fairytales, I will talk to her about maturity and behavior and responsibility because honestly, should I get a chance to be a kid again, that is how I would want to be reintroduced to this world: no frosting, no sugarcoating, just the truth about the consequences of my actions.
But I also want her to know that no matter her transgressions, no matter her choices, no matter what seasons would come and go, I will always be there. Baby , tell her I’ll hold your hand when you are a pocketful of roses. I’ll hold your hand when you are brittle falling leaves.
I’ll hold your hand when you are a ray of sunshine. I’ll hold your hand when you are painful as ice. But baby, I can only hold your hand.
I cannot walk for you. I cannot stand for you.
You have to use your own two feet.
And while I’ll always be there ready to offer her hugs and Band-Aids and ice creams, I’ll never shelter her from the cruelties of this world. Instead, I’ll teach her how to build her own shelter. How to draw boundaries without having to put up walls.
How to keep the doors open—how to always keep the doors open,
without letting everything or everyone in. How to scare the monsters beneath her bed. How to dispose of skeletons even before they could settle inside closets.
How to do her own homework.
How to learn her own lessons.
How to fight her own bullies.
How to win her own battles. How to live her own life, without expectations other than her own.