An Open Letter to My Daughter on Her First Day of School

Dear Quinn,

Today is your first day of grade one, and your first experience of public school. It’s the beginning of a long adventure of learning and meeting new friends. I’m so excited for you.

By the time you’re all grown up and ready to graduate, you may not even remember that your mom stayed home from work for a whole year when you were 5 so she could homeschool you and spend extra time together.

We started educating you even a little before that. We travelled the world together as a family—eating all kinds of different foods, staying in different types of homes, and seeing how other people lived in different parts of the world. You’re only 6 now but have already dipped your toes in 4 different oceans. In fact, you’ve also lived in a different country—the United States of America—and every so often, we detect a little New York accent when you speak.

Of course, it’d be amazing if you remembered all this, but more importantly, I hope some of these experiences imprinted on your beautiful soul.

Why did we do this?

Well, for one, it terrified us that once you started school you’d probably be spending more time doing activities in school and with friends than with us. I guess this past year we wanted to hold on tight to our special time with you. And even if it didn’t always seem like it to you, Mom and Dad are so grateful to have had that extra time with you.

Now that you’re starting school, I like to joke with you that you’re probably relieved to have fewer “Daddy Talks” all the time. I don’t blame you! As your dad, it’s my job to love you unconditionally (which just means I love you no matter what!) and do my best to help prepare you to be all grown up one day (which seems like a super-crazy thought to even think right now). As I’m sure you already know, growing up seems to be filled with endless lessons to be learned. You’ll keep learning all your life—I am!

In school, you’re going to face many different experiences and have all sorts of feelings—many of which you’ve never had before.

So, knowing that most days we may not have the chance to talk about your day until after you’ve come home, I wanted to write down a few of those “Daddy Talks” so you can carry them with you always—even if you aren’t able to read them all just yet. You can tuck this letter somewhere secret in your backpack and just know that whatever is going on that day, I’m thinking of you.

So here you go:

  1. My love, your words are so very powerful and what you say can hurt people. So remember to ask yourself if what you’re going to say is “kind, necessary and true.”
  2. Don’t be embarrassed about anything you do. Dad knows just what it’s like to feel really embarrassed. One time, when I was just a bit older than you, I was giving a speech in front of the entire school and I forgot all the words. I remember my face went very red and I felt sad and silly … but … you know what? It was all okay in the end. The point is, we all do silly things. We all make mistakes. It’s part of being human, sweetie.
  3. One of the hardest things to do in school is to stand up for people who are being teased or bullied. I know from when I was in school—it’s so scary to tell someone they shouldn’t bully people, especially if the person who is doing the bullying is your friend. You’ll probably feel a squishy feeling in your stomach and be worried that if you say something they may start bullying you too … or no longer want to be your friend. But standing up for something will make you feel amazing. Besides, do you really want a friend that bullies people? I know I don’t!
  4. Don’t worry if something you’re learning in class is really hard to understand. And especially don’t worry if some of the other kids seem to get it but you don’t. We all learn in different ways and at different paces. What matters, is that you aren’t afraid to keep trying to learn. Mommy always says that plants never rush when then grow … yet they still grow. So don’t rush, eventually, you’ll get there too!
  5. Treat other kids the way you like being treated. It hurt my heart when I was bullied in school or left off teams when other kids were playing. It made me feel like I wanted to hide away. Remember that you would feel the same if that happened to you, so always try to include other children and make them feel as special as you would like to feel.
  6. Share everything with your mom and dad. There is not one single thing that you could do that would make us love you less. Remember we love you unconditionally—no matter what. So, don’t ever, ever be afraid to tell us what’s on your mind or what you’re feeling in your heart, or if something happened that made you feel scared or uncomfortable. Sharing your feelings can be really hard to do because sometimes we feel embarrassed. But I know I always feel better when I share what’s on my mind with Mommy—and I know you will too.
  7. Breathe. Yes, I know you don’t love it when I ask you to do this, but like Daniel Tiger says, “If you feel so mad that you want to Roar, Take a Deep Breath, and Count to Four.”
  8. Always Be You. As you grow up, that “feeling inside your heart and mind”—who you are and how you want to be—will change. Just like how sometimes you really like certain TV shows and superheroes, and then later you like totally new ones. Always just be Quinn. If you want to cut your hair differently than everyone else, then just ask us and we’ll do it. If you want to dye your blond hair black like Violet from The Incredibles, then we’ll do that too. Wear whatever clothes make you feel like magic. All that matters is that you, QUINN, feel good about it. What other people think doesn’t matter.
  9. Show respect to adults and other kids. Show them your good manners and patience and do your best to listen to them while they are trying to talk. But also trust yourself and, if something doesn’t seem right in your heart and mind, speak up and share your thoughts.
  10. Don’t be a tattletale. Unless of course, the person you feel like telling on is in danger of hurting himself or herself or hurting someone else. You don’t like it when your little sister tells on you—no one does!
  11. There are no sports or activities that are just for boys or just for girls. There are only sports and activities for children and you can do whichever ones you feel like doing and so can everyone else. If someone is trying to exclude you because you’re a girl, come and tell us.
  12. Bonus: Growing up is a really cool experience, and being older has fun perks, like staying up a bit later than your sister to watch a movie with Mom and Dad. But don’t be in a rush to grow up. Enjoy your childhood. Stay curious and playful. As you say, Quinn, “Be a child at heart.”

As you grow up and go through your school years, you’ll notice that other people will imagine things differently than you. They will believe in different things and that’s totally okay, sweetie. We all believe and imagine different things. BUT if you want to believe in something, then believe it with all your heart; if you want to imagine something, then imagine it as big as you possibly can. And don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t or that you should believe something that doesn’t feel right to you.

Oh ya, and always be a child at heart!

You are a beautiful little girl and I am so proud of you!

I love you always,

Dad

Thanks for Reading, be well!

2 thoughts on “An Open Letter to My Daughter on Her First Day of School”

  1. Wonderful letter Joel.

    You and your daughter will always be grateful you wrote it. And…you are showing her early how a man should treat her; with respect, honesty, vulnerability, and love.

    Time will pass quickly. Enjoy this moment.

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