When my five-year-old daughter asked what I wanted for Father’s Day, I was tempted to say: Eat more vegetables, do a better job brushing your teeth, and then let’s play The Quiet Game.
But even though I wish she would adopt my views on a healthy diet, clean teeth and the importance of silence, I recognize there’s a bigger picture. So here’s what I really want.
I Want You To Wear Crazy Outfits
I’ll never get tired of seeing how you dress yourself in bizarro mashups of fashions, costumes and accessories. Here are a few of my favorites.
But this isn’t just about my enjoyment.
I never want you to suffer from a self-conscious need to fit in. When it comes to appearances, I hope you maintain a carefree, exuberant eccentricity into your teens and adult life.
I trust this will attract the kinds of people who value your individuality, and support your passion—whether that ends up being taxidermy or tax accounting.
I Want You To Ask for What You Need
So far, you’re doing a great job at this! (Although soon we’ll have to discuss the difference between “need” and “want.”)
There are a few different parts to what I’m talking about. First, you have to be able to look beneath emotions like sadness, anger and fear to discover what your real need is. Then, if you’re unable to fill that need yourself, you have to summon the courage to ask others for help.
Understand that you may not always get what you need from others, but you almost certainly won’t get it, if you aren’t able to ask. To do that, you have to believe that your needs matter. They do.
I Want You to Spend Lots of Time with Your Mom
OK, I know what you’re thinking. And yes, I enjoy my quiet time when you’re with your mother. But this is about much more than that.
There are things only your mother and other women can teach you. There’s a feminine strength and culture that’s a beautiful mystery to me. It’s also a much-needed balance to the masculine energies in our society.
I’m proud to be a man (and I’m proud of the masculine energies I see in you). I hope your life will be filled with strong, honorable and loving men. However, the world needs you and your generation of women to be equally strong.
So watch how mommy and her ladies take care of each other. Then find your tribe and do the same.
I Want You To Spend Lots of Time Outside
Yes, we have fair skin and need to wear sunblock. But we shouldn’t be afraid of the sun. I know from experience that too much time indoors darkens the spirit.
I want you to remember that humans are animals. We’ve learned to build big, sturdy nests to protect us from the elements, but we belong outdoors, in nature. Relatively speaking, we’re a very young species. Our brains grew just big enough to outthink our instincts. So now we need to rethink what it means to fit in on this planet.
Fortunately, the older species can teach us the lessons we need to learn, but to get those lessons we have to go outside and “ask nature.”
I Really Do Want You to Learn To Be Quiet
This isn’t just because daddy needs some peace.
Just like it’s important for us to go outside, it’s also important for us to go inside—ourselves. Your mind is waking up with so much new information. But our minds are only tools, and a noisy ones at that.
If we learn how to quiet our thoughts when they aren’t needed, we can absorb the experience of living without all the interpretation and storymaking. That’s something you may appreciate as you grow older and begin to want some peace of your own.
There’s no hurry, but the first step is to find the circuit breaker between your mind and the mouth.
I Want You To Push Back
Think what I just said is BS? Good for you.
It’s not. But you don’t have to accept what I say just because I’m your dad. (You do have to eat your vegetables though…)
In your life you’ll encounter people and institutions that try to assert authority over you. Don’t let them. Too many people are stuck in a culture of domination that insists on placing you in a hierarchy of power below or above them.
Take the high ground. Then open your heart, reach down, and offer them a hand up. Show them, if you can, how partnership and equality work. (But watch your back.)
Find Your Superpowers, But Know Your Kryptonite
The way to discover your superpowers is to focus on what interests you. (And television doesn’t count as an interest—unless you’re making one!)
The other great thing about following your interests is it makes concentration and learning enjoyable. However, it’s also important to look up and see the big picture—to know the things you don’t know.
The truth is, if you explore your interests deeply and widely, you’ll see that everything is connected. Your love for sea mammals or drawing will become a foundation for understanding and connecting with the rest of world.
I Want You To Build Community
Our world is changing fast. I don’t know what things will be like at the end of my lifetime, let alone yours.
But I do know strong communities are the key to security and happiness—not money. The value of money can be erased literally overnight. (That’s a scary subject for another day.) But the value of family, friendships and shared goals is resilient.
You’re already helping mommy and me connect with other families. And if you continue to help take care of our community, I’ll sleep better at night. I’ll know others will return the favor and take care of you, after I’m no longer able.
I Want You to Stay Positive
It’s better to be for something than against something. Don’t give energy—not even negative energy—to things you wish did not exist.
Also, we can improve our experiences of life by the stories we tell ourselves.
For example, if someone is rude, you could think: “She doesn’t like me,” or “What a jerk.” Or, you could think, “She must be having a tough day.”
I suggest the last choice will help you feel better, and keep your heart open to connection.
I Want You to Learn Both Sides
Work hard and play hard. You’ve got one part of this cliché figured out.
You’ve brought a lot of party to my life. In return, hope to give you the tools you need to achieve your goals in life.
For now, I’ll just offer this: They don’t call it work for nothing.
But it’s worth the effort. I promise. Consistent, practiced effort and patience will take you where you want to go.
I Want You to Go on Big Adventures
The thing about adventures is we don’t always know where they’ll take us. But they always make us feel alive.
I can see that you’re a dreamer like me, and I hope you’ll act boldly on your dreams. It’s good to prepare for your adventures, but at some point you just have to push off and have faith in yourself.
That’s why I wrote Juniper Gets Wet for you. I wanted to inspire you to be the girl who’s not content to sit around watching TV on a rainy day when there’s adventure to be had!
One Last Father’s Day Wish
Keep giving me those enormous, soul-squeezing hugs. They are amazing and so are you.
Happy Father’s Day to all the Boss Dads!
About the Author
Bart King is the co-founder of Boss Parent and a writer. His first children’s book, Juniper Gets Wet, was published in 2015.