Did you wonder last night what I was trying to say? Between the beeps on your iPad and the plucks you made on the thick strings of your cello in that half hour we had together – the half hour when we weren’t eating dinner and you weren’t getting ready for bed – did you wonder what I meant by, “I know”?
Did you notice when I said it, or were you focused on the buttered popcorn we ate for dessert?
I am writing this letter to make my meaning plain.
No, I don’t expect you to read it, not now when you’re nine. I will tell you aloud when we have more attention and time.
What I meant. What I mean. What I know.
I know Ana is your friend, your good friend. I know you like to play dress-up and practice who-knows-what-that-I-won’t-like, and talk about her boy crushes and gossip together about girls and boys in your class. I know some of the kids like to say she’s bad. I know she’s also your friend.
I want to know her better because she is your friend.
I know you’re not fond of math.
I know you don’t want to be the shortest kid in your class.
I know you love Mama and me and you’re glad we’re your parents, but that doesn’t always stop you from getting a sinking feeling when someone recognizes you as the kid in fourth grade with two moms. I know you defend us against kids who say ill-informed things. I know there are times, too, when you stay quiet. I know you can’t stand the horrible guilt you feel when you don’t speak your mind.
I know you love art. I see you developing an artist’s eye.
I know your desire to belong is why you joined your friends’ conversation about the teenage boy we saw wearing short shorts and pink shoes. I know, but it doesn’t mean I won’t call you out for suggesting boys can’t wear pink.
I know you love where you were born.
I know you take pride in your birth country and more pride in the country you live in now. I know you feel a divided loyalty sometimes – tiny maybe, barely a flicker – deep inside. I fear it will grow as you mature, and I want it not to. I want to protect you from this, from feeling the need to decide. You don’t need to decide. You can love and claim both places.
No, I don’t know how. Not yet. I hope we can learn together, as we’ve learned so many things.
I know Karyn is your true home still. I know you will share with her what you will share with no one else – not even Ana – even if you don’t know that yet yourself. I know that when it comes time to decide, if it ever comes time to decide, you will make the right choice – even if you have to try and try and try again.
I know you want to make us proud. I know you want to make yourself proud, too.
I know you wish I didn’t know some of these things.
I know you love me. I know I love you.
I know you care for your friends and family. I know you care for yourself. I want you to keep caring, keep loving.
This love and care will take us from here to there. From nine to grown. Happy. Full with life.
I love you very much, my little Peanut, every minute of every day, every step of the way.
With all my heart,