I Want Only Three Things for my Girls
When my daughters started school ten years ago, I made it very clear to them what their job was going to be.
I remember them standing on the porch with their crisp little uniforms, their ridiculous backpacks and perfect blonde hair. I crouched in front of them and hugged their tiny bodies; fearful of the perils that lay ahead. They were pure, innocent, blue-eyed perfection.
The day before, I'd told them what their mission would be over the next 12 years.
From this moment on, I explained, I wanted them to do just four things:
- To discover how they learned best – regardless of how they were being taught
- To learn how to share their ideas – to become effective communicators
- To learn how to get along and work with others
- To recognise and run with things they enjoyed – the things that felt right for them
Most of all, I told them I didn't care how well they performed academically.
Of course, I explained all this to them in a way they would understand, but also knowing full well they'd forget it the moment I'd finished. But I felt it was important to start things off with a clear understanding of why they were embarking on this epic and all-consuming journey.
I did it because I knew how easy it was for parents to push for good grades, like it was a default parent setting or something. And I'd learned that long-term happiness had (has) almost nothing to do with getting good grades. More often than not, it clouds a child's judgement of what fits them best – what comes naturally to them.
Ultimately, I knew that by focussing on these things, my precious girls would give themselves the greatest shot at lasting happiness in their brief but magical lives.
And ten years on, I'm happy to say that, for the most part, they've not forgotten their mission. I many ways, they've triumphed.
But as they approach the final years of their schooling, these ideas are fading into the background; replaced by three new ones that I hope will carry them through the rest of their lives.
I haven't shared these with the girls yet, but a comment on Instagram from Marcie Goldman prompted me to write about them today.
My Three Wishes
First, I want them to know that they matter – that everything they do radiates out and has an impact. No matter how insignificant they think their life, their work and their relationships are, they're creating their own butterfly effect. Oftentimes, they'll never witness the effects of their lives on others, but it'll happen anyway. And much of their impact will carry on long after they're gone.
Second, it's so important that they grasp the incredible fluke bestowed on them, just by being here. They could have been donkeys, or blowflies, or that yellow fungus that grows on elm trees. To be a human being is a one in 400 trillion chance. It's impossible. And yet here they are, growing up on this enchanted ball floating in space, and surrounded my miracles every day.
When you really get this, it's hard not to feel grateful. And with gratitude at the centre of their thinking, I know great things will happen for them.
Finally, I want them to stay utterly and unashamedly weird; to be 100% authentic. Our modern culture is drowning in copycats and fakery. Everyone is trying to be like everyone else, without knowing why; without considering what it all leads to. For so many, it leads to misery, conflict, anxiety and fear.
I want them to listen to what their heart tells them – not their ego; not the desire to fit in or be liked. I want my girls to recognise that authenticity is recognised and lauded by the ones who matter – those other authentic souls who are living their lives on their terms; according to their deeply-held and unique talents.
What I wish for these priceless young women is a life lived fully. I'd like them to plan for their future (so their later years are easy and carefree), but to also seek out and embrace the extraordinary adventures that await those who know their value, who accept their great fortune, and who strive to become who they really are.
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