an open letter to my (hypothetical) future daughter

Hi, sweetie.

I’m your dad.

And I’m going to try really hard.

I’ll take you out for ice cream when your mom won’t buy you that dress that costs more than a small car, but that you ohmygoodnessneedsomuch. I’ll tell you that you’re beautiful in anything you wear. You’ll reply “all dads say that.” And I’ll be so thankful that you’re still young enough to think that’s true.

When your best friend Sarah gets invited to the most important sleepover party in the history of mankind and you don’t, I’ll ask you to curl up on the couch next to me to watch baseball. I’ll explain all the intricacies of the game. And by the second inning you’ll have convinced me to switch the channel to some movie where a misunderstood female alien competes with a re-programmed female cyborg for the love of the teenaged Ryan Gosling Jr. And I’ll be thankful that it distracts you from a pain I haven’t (yet) figured out how to shield you from.

There’ll be so many things that keep me awake at night.

I know I have much to learn. But I also have much to teach.

That sometimes he’s not who you think he is.

That sometimes he won’t call. And that it won’t really have anything to do with you.

That you can be absolutely anything you want to be.

That we’ll buy you a pick up truck on your sixteenth birthday mainly because it doesn’t have a back seat.

That when you know, you really know.

That you should never hide how smart you are.

That it’ll hurt me a little when you’ll want to talk to your mom instead of me, but that I’ll understand. (I’ll like talking to her too.)

That my cringe is not a judgement.

Neither is my wince.

That being disappointed for you is not being disappointed with you.

That the world will make you grow up fast enough. You don’t have to try to rush it.

That it gets easier.

And that a father’s love is fully and completely unconditional.

The night of your first date will come. Despite my protests. So many protests.

I’ll do my very best to remember that I’ve taught you right from wrong.

I’ll look at you. I’ll see the baby. I’ll see the little girl. I’ll see skinned knees and runny noses.

I’ll hope you’ll keep my advice in mind. I’ll hope you remember that I’ll go get you if you need me to. Wherever. Whenever.

I’ll hope you took note of how I treat your mom, and demand that from everyone you meet.

I’ll hope you’ll remember just how much I love you.

And your date’s eyes will meet mine, as he takes your hand in his — as I’ve done so many times, crossing streets, stepping over mud puddles and defending you from monsters — and I’ll give him a look that says…

“If you harm her in any way, I’ll DESTROY you, you pimply-faced little shit.”

What? I’m still your father.


17 thoughts on “an open letter to my (hypothetical) future daughter

  1. One day I plan to read this in its entirety, but today I had to stop about 1/3 of the way through due to the overwhelming amount of tears. Postpartum hormones + stress over returning to work. Outstanding.

    Good stuff, Peter.

  2. You are adorable. Also, “I’ll destroy you, you pimply-faced little shit” is the greatest line of all time. I picture you using it while holding a baseball bat or possibly re-enacting the date scene from Bad Boys 2.

  3. You made me cry, Peter! This is beautiful. It makes me wish I lived closer to my Dad so I could hug him right now. When I turned 13 he put a baseball bat behind the door and would take it out and practice his swings every time a boy came over. Lucky for him he also had a daughter who would regularly remind the boys about that bat. :)

  4. “That we’ll buy you a pick up truck on your sixteenth birthday mainly because it doesn’t have a back seat.”

    Absolutely hilarious. This is so sweet and adorable. Really captures the reality of the father/daughter relationship.

  5. That was so sweet and such an interesting perspective. I’m the mother of two boys so it was great to see the father/daughter side of things. Oh by the way, my oldest son just turned 16 and we bought him a pick up truck and it DOES have a nice, BIG back seat!!!!!!!! LOL

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