(I have a new granddaughter, Norah, and in lieu of making New Year’s
resolutions for 2014, I’m sending a welcome letter to my new off-offspring.)
You arrived in the world today (pardon the mess), and the
announcement came with the usual vital statistics: you weighed-in at eight
pounds, thirteen ounces, and a smidgeon over twenty inches long. Don’t labor
over what a “smidgeon” is just yet. You’ll discover that we humans have many
ways of assigning units of measure, especially in this North Country. You’ll
have enough trouble later sorting out oodles, smithereens and heebie-jeebies.
You’ll have to trust me, that someday when someone asks you
about your birth size, and you tell them that you were a smidgeon over twenty
inches, they’ll know what you mean.
This naturally brings us to your biggest earthly challenge:
the art of communication. Not to worry. At first, nothing intelligible is
expected from you. In fact, in your first photo, there you are with your thumb
in your mouth and your first finger in your nose. You have a close relative (ahem)
who believes that such early psychomotor dexterity means that you might one day
be a maestro conducting your own symphony at Carnegie Hall, but that’s just the
way he thinks (wink-wink).
The truth is, you COULD grow up to do just that, if that is
within you, and when I think of how wide open the world is for you, I get dizzy
with excitement. But, it’s also my duty and devotion, right about here, to help
you prepare for what’s coming. I know you will have to travel your own path in
your own way, but I can offer a few tips:
It’s probably best to not pet any animal on someone else’s
leash without asking first.
When you make a drawing (which you will be called upon to
do) and you choose to color the sun purple, and someone tells you that you’re
wrong, try to ignore them. Sometimes, the sun IS purple. Don’t budge. If you
see it and feel it purple, use purple.
I want to explain to you how it’s possible that the first
time you stand in the sand at the edge of an ocean, the water from a wave
rushing back through your toes can make you feel like you’re changing the shape
of the whole world --- but I won’t try. When you do it yourself, it will be all
I never learned how to whistle through my fingers, but your
Great-Grandmother Pauline knows. She’ll be happy to show you.
I am, however, pretty good at ducks & drakes. This is
where you take a flat stone and throw it just right so it skips across the
water. When you’re ready, I’ll be happy to have a skip-off with you. It’s all
in the hips and wrists. You may choose the stones.
There is an old expression: “Every form of refuge has its
price.” Please, always keep this in mind. If you love to fly, you’ll need to
have a long talk with gravity. If you want to ride a unicorn, you’ll need a
good unicorn saddle. If you make mudpies, you’ll get muddy. If that’s fine with
you, and you want to make a mudpie for me, I like mine packed with lots of sticks
and gooey stuff.
You’ll have moments when you just don’t understand why
things happen the way they do. Never stop asking. Keep at it until you find the
answer that works for you.
I’ll bet you a mudpie that no matter how hard you try, you
won’t be able to say “black bug’s blood” three times fast. This is one of
life’s great mysteries, along with the inability to sneeze with your eyes open
or tickle yourself. And, very few people can wiggle their ears or raise just
one eyebrow, but I’ll be happy to practice trying with you.
All your life you will be faced with things you should do,
things you could do, and things you would do. How you do or don’t do them will
make all the difference.
There are many perils waiting for you up ahead, but just as
many pleasures. It’s a good idea to always have a Plan B. Don’t ever stick your
tongue on a frozen flagpole. Forget what’s fashionable and wear comfortable
shoes. You can’t ever clean up all the world’s litter, but you can always not
throw any yourself. Find the common ground between poetry and science. Be kind
to animals. Ride the rollercoaster at least once. Dance with abandon.
Know always … that you are loved.
Welcome home, my dear Norah!
Wire News Service syndicated humor columnist writes from Bethlehem, NH. His new book: “Walk Tall and Carry A BigWatering Can
,” is now available. Copyright 2013 by B. Elwin Sherman. All rights reserved. You may contact him here.