My sweet girl,
I want you to know that your mother and I see everything you do.
We see you helping with little things around the house: running upstairs to get a change of clothes for your sister, or giving your younger siblings a bath. Not because we’ve promised you a reward, or even asked you do it. You saw it needed to be done, so you did it.
We see that no matter how many times your brother annoys you or ignores you, you keep trying to engage him. You’ve never been anything but affectionate and kind. Before you knew what autism was, you realized your brother was special, different, and gifted.
We see you rising above the drama of fifth grade. When a classmate badmouthed a mutual friend with a hyperbolic statement, you drolly replied, “That’s a bit of an overstatement.” When the classmate then got upset, you refused to apologize for sticking up for a friend. You have a maturity that we never had at your age.
We see you notice the affection and respect that your mother and I have for each other, and hope that we are somehow setting the standard for how you expect your future partners to treat you.
We saw that on the day that your brother went missing and your parents were losing their heads, you were calmly finding a picture of him and scanning it in the printer, in order to make flyers to help people find him.
We see that you are equally comfortable with art and science. You can talk to me about Greek mythology while you build a robot. That precious balance will pay rich intellectual dividends for you in the future.
We have so many hopes for you. Sometimes I worry you fear you might not be able to live up to them. But here’s the secret: you already have. At your relatively young age, you recognize that that the struggle to deepen the soul is more important than the climb to success. (1)
You are on your way to being the best possible version of yourself, and we are so proud of you.
Your loving Father
____________________________________________________________________________________________(1) David Brooks, “The Road to Character”, Random House 2015.