Beatrix: Two and a Half

Hi B,

I’m writing this letter on an airplane and the first thing that strikes me is how rare that is these days. When your sis was your age, I was still at Mozilla, and I was in the air a lot. Her mom and I had already split up, and I scheduled my travel to avoid missing time with her. But it was still pretty hard. Not because I don’t love the travel. I really do. I hope you will, too. But emotions always feel bigger for me on airplanes. Movies affect me more. And I end up writing letters.

I’ll say the things I always say: you’ve grown so much since my last letter. You’re a funny, brave, sensitive, full contact kid. You want to do everything Lil does, be everywhere she is. You have this thing you do where if you’re about to tackle someone or something, you stick out your jaw and bare your teeth like you’re going into battle. It’s excellent.

Your mom and I talk a lot about raising warriors. You’re coming up in a world that can be so harsh, so nasty. I watch a lot of the adults in my life build up tougher skin and draw harder, angrier lines to protect themselves from it. I see myself do it. But if we’re not careful that toughness will cost us our tenderness, B, and those lines will make it harder for us to see each other. When we talk about raising you as warriors, we mean that we want you to have agility and perception, resourcefulness and strength. We want to teach you to defend yourself from all this without letting it harden you. “Warriors” is a hard word because combat is not at all the only tool we want you to have. War is never something to wish for, and even when you win you lose. I guess we just want you to be prepared for anything. I think every parent does.

Every night before bed you want a Beatrix and Lily story. The plot lines have been getting more esoteric as I run out of new stories to tell. There was one story that was just a thinly-veiled recipe for making oatmeal raisin cookies. But you listen, perfectly still, to each one. One of your favourite guest stars is Hyacinth, the dragon. If I ever omit her in a story you make me go back as epilogue and write her in. Hyacinth has purple scales, and big powerful wings, and only breathes fire when it’s to help people who need her. She is magic, and protects the world, and likes watermelon. Maybe your mom and I should say we’re raising dragons.

The plane is landing soon, so here’s a few final fun facts about you. You’re starting preschool soon, and next September you’ll start big kid school. You’re learning to ride a balance bike. And avocado makes you projectile vomit. It’s really something.

I miss you, B. You’ll be asleep by the time I get home tonight, but I’ll be there when you wake up tomorrow. I love you.

Daddy

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