A Letter to Our Youngest Daughter on Your 3rd Birthday

You are 3 years old today, Violet.img_0055

You’ve grown so much over the past year and your personality has really shone through lately. Violet, you are still incredibly sweet and surprisingly considerate for someone your age. You can be stubborn and selfish, to be sure, but you also spend a lot of time making sure others are happy or comfortable. If you see something red you’ll say, “Dad, look, red! You’re favorite kind!” Or you’ll say, “Dad, look, that’s turkwiss (turquoise), Amelia’s favorite kind!” Your mom says her favorite color is rainbow—which I think is a copout, but whatever—so she never really gets a shoutout.

You’re fiercely independent and adventurous. For a while you did this thing where you’d start to do something and to dissuade anyone from stopping you from doing it, you’d say, “don’t worry ‘bout me, okay?”

You’d start climbing on the counter in your bathroom to get the fish food you know you aren’t supposed to touch. “Don’t worry about me, okay, Dad? Don’t worry about me!”

For your second birthday we were visiting family in Portland and we bought you this toy dump truck that made a lot of rumbling noises and drove. You loved it. You still like big trucks and tractors, but you also love motorcycles. You called them monkle-shidles for a while, but just the other day you said, “Mom, look at those motorcycles!” and I realized I needed to write it down or I’d forget.

I love seeing your brain work through things. In the mornings you say, “I waked up,” and when we’re playing catch you say, “I catched it!” You’ve got the rule right, but English is hard; you’ll figure it out soon enough.

Your favorite color is blue, but sometimes you tell me that I have to share red with you and Amelia has to share turquoise with you. You love the music from Frozen. But it’s not just the music. You love to reenact scenes with your dolls and tell us the play-by-play when you’re singing the songs from the movie.

“Dad, here’s where she runs up the stairs!” or “…and then she shoots her with ice!”

What’s amazing is you’ve only seen the movie once or twice and remember it scene for scene. You also love the movie Zootopia. You pronounce it “Topia” with the emphasis on the “pi” (toe-PEE-ah).

You love swimming. You hate wearing any sort of safety device. The other day you caught a grasshopper and were so proud. You just stood there beaming as you told me all about how you caught it and how it lost a leg in the process. You’re a great runner and are still learning how pedals work. I love how much you love being outside. I’m looking forward to taking you hiking without having to carry you, though I think you might have some trouble staying on the trail…

Violet, I’ve been trying to write this for a month and it just keeps getting harder and harder. None of this will make sense to you right now or even a few years from now, but this has been a crazy year and I have no idea what the future holds. You’re Latina. And while I’m very proud of that—and I hope you will be, too—you will be treated differently because of it. I want to tell you that as you get older it won’t matter and the world is a better place, but I don’t know that. I don’t know what’s going to happen. We live in a country that tells you you can be anything you want, and I want to believe that. I want to believe that if you work hard you can be President. I love this country and I know humanity’s better angels will win the day.


It won’t happen automagically. We’ve got to do it together. So here’s the ask, Violet. Whenever you read this, please remember: be kind. Be compassionate. Demand better. In the face of insurmountable odds, be courageous and live with fortitude and determination. You come from a family of veterans, union organizers, activists, artists, and lots of strong women. Live that legacy. And always remember, we’re all in this together.

2016-07-24-10-54-48-1I love you, Violet. Happy birthday.