I can prepare her all I want, but once she's out there, well, there's no telling what she'll do. And that's OK. Because even though I'm creating this guise of concern for her hygiene and education, I'm actually much more interested in seeing a smile on her face.
I know of no better show that captures the ups and downs of the first kiss, first fight with a friend, first failure on a test, first break-up, first play audition. All of these moments provide perfect entry points into conversations that allow you to share relationship values with your daughter.
On the eve of your birthday, I hugged you goodnight and whispered, "Happy birthday, Jane. I can't believe you'll be 4 tomorrow." You looked up, and with the utmost innocence, you said, "But, I'll always be your baby. Even when I die, right?"
To create connection rather than disconnection with our kids, we need to demonstrate to them that we accept them exactly as they are. Then, kids find it safe to be themselves around us. In an atmosphere of acceptance, children can grow, develop, create and learn.
The year was 1976. I was a student at UCLA and heard on campus that blues singers B.B. King and Bobby Bland would be performing at the nearby Cocoanut Grove -- a night club at the since-demolished Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire.
No matter how angry I have been with her, there has never been a time I did not pick up the phone and call my mother and say, "Please let's not argue. I am sorry this is happening between us." My mother is the most important woman in my life. I love and respect her unconditionally.
I picked up the piece of paper as tears started to sting my eyes. Those letters were proof that my baby is growing up. I looked at her, my strong, spirited, joyful girl and said, bursting with pride, "When did you learn to write?"
Instead of going to parties on Graduation Sunday, I drove down the road to the funeral home. I would be there for the rest of the day and evening, welcoming many of the same people who were, just hours before, cheering me as I accepted my high school diploma.
The Golden Girls shouldered each other's burdens and shared in each other's good times. It is funny, heartbreaking and beautiful to watch. I hope that my daughter is blessed with great friends with whom she can share both joy and sadness.