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    Because I need to talk to you both today.


    Jeannie's Die Cuts / Via

    Dear Scottie and Pepper,

    You're seven and three, respectively, and I'm in awe of you. Your curiosity, your daring, and your zest for life invigorate and inspire me. Through the overwhelming feeling of happiness you give me, a small sense of dread occasionally creeps to the surface.

    The world, especially in this election year, can be scary. I'm terrified for my family, and I'm terrified for your future. Perhaps "terrified" is a strong word, but I'm definitely concerned.

    As your parents, Mom and I are concerned about your safety. There was another terrorist attack this morning in another country, and it was most assuredly on my mind when I dropped you both off at school. I think about the drills you perform at school in case of an active shooter. I think about the train we take to Comic-Con, and what I'd do to protect you, or if I even could, should a terrorist target the transit center.

    Scottie, you love travel and have said you want to do that when you're a teenager/grown up. You're a first grader who wants to journey across the globe and host a travel show like your hero, Rick Steves. I support you in this, but also fear for your safety. We've talked about fear, and how to understand that it exists, that it's okay, and you let it come, then figure out ways you can overcome it.

    Stand up to your fears. Confront your monsters.

    Metalparts / Via

    I fear many things, actually.

    Pepper, once when you were climbing a ladder on the playground and swinging over the side, I ran over like a lunatic, yelling "be careful, Pep! You're going to fall and get hurt." You told me you were okay. I shook my head, but you grabbed my cheek as gently as you could, and whispered "you no be afraid, Daddy. You not afraid, okay?" You smiled and went carefully about your business, for my sake.

    I'm at that point in adulthood, my dear girls, when you question whether you're doing a good job- in parenting, as a husband, as a member of society. You fear for your next paycheck, but somehow know things will be okay and that you have it better than most.

    What our family does well is communicate. We talk about privilege. We talk about inclusion. We talk about the diversity that makes this world amazing. When watching a movie, you're quick to point out, Scottie, that recognizing the differences in others is important, and that we should celebrate, not denigrate, those differences. I know when I read this to you girls, you'll look up the definition of 'denigrate' and enjoy learning a new word. I am so, so, proud of you.

    You and your community of peers are shaping the future today.

    Lance Arthur Smith / Via

    Your mother is very bright, just like her daughters. In the wake of these attacks, and of old prejudices coming to light on the internet, she pointed out how our generation has had to tiptoe around the ideas of gender, race, sexual orientation and other societal taboos.

    But these aren't taboo for you and your friends. They just are. You accept that a boy and a girl can get married and believe whatever they want, as long as their beliefs don't hurt somebody else. You know that a boy and a boy can get married, or a girl and a girl can get married, and that's cool too "as long as people getting married love each other" (your words, Scottie). It's not strange at all to meet someone whose skin is a different color than yours. Why would you treat them any differently, you ask, as if even the idea that someone could do that is absurd. If a Muslim woman wears a hijab, you ask what it is, and why she's wearing it. Sometimes you'll ask her directly. If not, we turn to books and the internet to discover something else about our global community, something special.

    Pepper, you're three and you're speaking a little Spanish. You long to learn French, Scottie, and you know quite a bit of Spanish and Italian. You've expressed an interest and have received a little instruction in American Sign Language. You want to communicate, and talking to your friends when I play with you on the playground before school, I've found that they love interacting with their community. Sometimes that interaction includes hurling a red ball at my head, but you do that too from time to time. It's okay.

    For all my fears (which will always exist), you're both exceptional human beings. You both know there are "bad guys and gals" in the world, but you know, truly know and believe, that the world is comprised mostly of "good guys and gals".

    You continue to fight for what you believe, on a macro and a micro scale. Please keep fighting, and keep telling Mom and me about your conflicts and your confusion. You will triumph, for you are both a triumph simply by trying to do good. And guess what? Mom and I are with you. We have your backs, and you have ours.



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