04/20/2007 05:04 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

My Letter To (unnamed)

This is a love letter saying what I am never allowed to say directly to a twelve-year old daughter of someone whom I am not allowed to name. It is a celebration of who you are right now and I have to write it obliquely because if I said it to you directly you would say `Ew!' and leave the room in a dramatic huff. You were born ironic, just as your brother was born sentimental, and I can't be too mushy to your face.

I love that you are in a moment when within half an hour you can look like a Spanish maja admiring your piled-up hair in the mirror -- and then you can dissolve in giggles when your little brother falls off the couch head first while doing an acrobatic move. I hope you can stretch that moment of easy movement between glamor and silliness for as long as you want to.

I love that when we talk about the days when people thought women couldn't do as well as men at some things and didn't have as many rights you react as if we are talking about the late Roman empire, which you are also learning about.

I love that you can switch to valley girl speak and switch back and also that you make up your own weird blends of pop culture when you are dancing, like setting Fiddler on the Roof songs to hip hop beats and moves.

I love that you have started to look appalled and not let me go out the door until you have edited my clothes and it is really kind of great that you are almost always right, even when it means I have to completely change everything I am wearing. Once in a while you aren't right and I love that in your world you don't know that yet; I love that you think a bustier and jeans and high heels are appropriate for a business meeting. I love that you made a pile of everything `classic' in my wardrobe and are trying to forbid me from wearing any of it, to the point of barring the door with your body. I love that when I try to wear a coat with black-and-white fur trim you won't let your dog, who is black and white, look at me.

I love that every Monday you become a vegetarian because you are starting to wrestle with ethical dilemmas and I love that by Thursday you are eating corn dogs from the street fair, but you still love animals and are still figuring it out.

I love that you stick up for kids at school when they are ostracized.

I love that you want to tell me all the time that everything I think and do is wrong but you still want to sit on my lap.

I love that when I make you laugh you have the same crazy smile you did when you were four months old sitting in the baby seat in the back of the car holding your foot straight out in the air with your tiny fist.

I love that you would have no idea how to hide your opinions and your intelligence if you had to.

I love that you think women empowering girls is so retro and that everyone does it everywhere and that it is a cliche.

I love that you have no hesitation in winning at soccer and no shame in losing given that you tried your best. I love that you have a sense of honor and that you are a good sportswoman. I love that the fact that your mom was a couch potato and a nerd neither holds you back nor makes you create an opposition.

I love that it never occurs to you to be in anybody's shadow.

I wish you the strengths you have now forever and that they will not be eclipsed but simply join all your strengths for the future too.

I promise to embarrass you for the rest of your life.
Yours, (not telling).

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