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Some Wisdom for a Six Year Old

August 22, 2011

This morning, my oldest kiddo went off to her first day in the 1st Grade. Over the summer, our neighborhood was rezoned to a new school, so we all had a sense of the unknowns that were looming out there. Over the course of the 24 hours prior to the first bell, Michelle and I asked her many times and in a multitude of ways, “Do you want Mom or Dad to walk you in to the school and make sure you find your way?” Much to our dismay, she kept declining the offer.

Just ten minutes or so before walking out the door, Michelle asked her one more time. “No mom,” Emily said, “if you come inside with me, I know I won’t want you to leave.”

To be honest, I think my six year old is my hero today. She is brave and wise and I am so proud of her.

Last year at this time, I wrote a blog post for her, entitled Some Wisdom for a 5 Year Old. As it turns out, I have a little bit more “wisdom” to dispense, perhaps for her, or maybe just for my sake.

Dear Emily,

It feels awfully trite to start a letter with some observation about how quickly time goes by…especially when it’s written to a six year old. After all, when you’re six a year feels like five years and you wonder if you’ll ever make it to your next birthday. That is, you’ll find, one of the great ironies of life. The less life you have ahead of you, the faster it seems to go.

As of late, I have thought a great deal about time. In a letter written to a friend a long time ago, a man by the name of C.S. Lewis called attention to our fascination with time and used it point to the fact that, as much as us humans try to avoid it sometimes, we are created in the image of an eternal God.

Mr. Lewis wrote:
“Notice how we are perpetually surprised at Time. (‘How time flies! Fancy John being grown-up and married! I can hardly believe it!’) In heavens name, why? Unless, indeed, there is something in us which is not temporal.”

We’re not created for time. We are eternal and that, sometimes, is the greatest reassurance as I watch the race of life fly by and see you and your siblings grow by leaps and bounds.

This probably feels awfully obscure to you but these are the thoughts that your Dad thinks when he’s not playing Barbies with you or Legos with your brother. While I’m writing in obscurities, I have a few more things to share with you, so humor your dad for a few minutes and let me indulge myself.

Wonder is the most beautiful sight – One day, you might forget that when you were six, your mom and I took you and Lincoln to the circus. Rarely, if ever, have I seen someone as awestruck as you that night. You literally bounced the entire time, jumping up in down in fascination and excitement as the full spectacle of the circus unfolded before you. Your mom and I spent half of the circus watching you instead of the show and you, unknowingly, inspired smiles and laughter of joy from complete strangers around you. This, my dear, is the power of wonder and enthusiasm. You will find, as time goes on, that the world is filled with angst and cynicism and I, of all people, cannot cast the first stone at others who unnecessarily worry about things that are outside of their control. You might not be able to escape that, but every ounce of wonder you can hold on to will put you in the unique position of bringing joy and enrichment to the lives of others.

Learning is always cooler than being an idiot – Over the past year I’ve watched you grow into a world of ideas just waiting to be discovered. You are enthusiastic about learning and reading and finding out what mysteries of the universe lie in the cosmos or under your very own nose. Some day all of this will change and people will try to convince you that it’s cooler to live life as a cynic and a fool rather than a wondrous dreamer in pursuit of knowledge and beauty. They will try and convince you that the less you care the cooler you’ll be. Don’t walk away from these people…run away as fast as you can. At some point they stopped trying and, in effect, stopped living. The greatest people I know in life are those that thrive on learning new things, seeing new things and meeting new people.

Changing Diapers Isn’t Always So Fun – Recently, you began being a big helper by changing your little sister’s diaper. Your mom and I appreciate the help and we’re glad that you’re enthusiastic about the taking on this new bit of responsibility. But, responsibility isn’t always so fun. In life, you’ll make decisions that require follow through and some difficulty. You might choose to get married and start a family of your own and as awesome as that is, you’ll find that there are a LOT of dirty diapers to be changed over the years. Just as you’d never allow the fear (yes, fear) of dirty diapers to keep you from having a family of your own, don’t let fear of difficulty that comes with other responsibility keep you from pursuing greatness. Responsibility means giving up some things that you want in order to do something that has value and, to be honest, this reality scares a lot of people in to settling for mediocrity.

Don’t be scared to take on responsibility, even if it means personal sacrifice. That’s how you get the things that are important in life.

Keep up the good work and have a great year of school.

Love,
Dad

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