Congratulations, Ella Rose, for selecting such wonderful parents. While I met your father only briefly, I have known your mother for twenty years, as a good friend to my daughter. Knowing your terrific mother, I realise your father is also very special, for your mother would select only the best man for herself and as your father.
Your mission, as you grow, is to teach your parents. You will teach them that, while you are totally dependent upon them at first, their job is to guide you toward independence. Your parents will learn that they are to give you love, nurture, and guidance, but cannot control you. You must teach them they cannot give you everything; they cannot make all decisions for you. You will teach them that you must learn from your own mistakes. They will learn that you take credit and responsibility for your decisions. You will show them you must face the consequences of your own actions. You will let them know they cannot shield you from life realities, but only help prepare you to face life realistically. However, you will also teach them that reality will not prevent you from realising your own dreams.
Your parents will learn as they make mistakes. You will help them understand that parents are human with human failings and that you will grow better and flourish because of their mistakes.
You must shepherd your parents through the many firsts of your life: that first word, your first step, the first day of school, your music recital, your first solo bicycle ride, each graduation, your first date. Let them know each "first" occurs only once and that every one must be savoured and celebrated. Teach your parents to enjoy the truly important experiences of life: catching your ball, pushing a swing in the park, making angels in the snow, and building castles in the sand. These milestones pass far too swiftly.
As you grow to womanhood, you must finally teach your parents their most difficult lesson: how to let go. They will have completed their mission of love, nurture, and guidance as they let you fly free as a beautiful butterfly to make a better world for yourself and all humanity. You will develop into an independent and unique woman. You will no longer need them. Instead, you will need each other more than ever. As your childhood and youth bloom into a mature woman, you finally prove to yourself and your parents that they have done their job well. You become closer and love continues to grow as long as you shall live.
Savour your youth. Cherish this fleeting moment. Prepare yourself for even better times. Your time shall come to learn -- the day you make your parents grandparents. You taught your parents well, for you gave them wisdom. Now it is your turn to learn. Life is a glorious learning adventure.
Your first friend,
2002 January 22