Dear Daughter,

"Congratulations! Today is your day. You're off to Great Places! You're off and away!
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose."

Dr. Seuss wrote these words in Oh the Places You'll Go, but they very well could have been written by your mom or me. We knew this day was coming – the day when we would send you out into the world. I know, you've been away from your parents before. But this time is different. It’s going to be much harder. We’ll start you slow: Pre-K this year and Kindergarten next year. It won't be all play, like you are mostly used to. You'll have a blast, but you'll also learn a lot.

When we brought you home from the hospital nearly five years ago, you screamed the entire trip. In fact, you pretty much screamed for the first four or five months of your life. Despite those trying days early on – and even now – I can now spin it this way: you have a lot of spunk and personality. That will serve you well out there.

Thinking back on those long days during your “babyhood” – those times when you would scream in our faces and we would scream back in yours – I just think you were eager to experience more than your body would allow. Now, your body is catching up with your mind. It’s time.

While I know you can't really read yet, there are a few things I want to put down in writing. As you launch into uncharted territory, these are to serve as reminders and directives that will stand throughout history (the Internet never forgets…which is a lesson for another day).

Know your mom and I are always here for you. You can tell us anything. We'll always have your back. That does not mean we'll always take your side. It does mean we'll always have your best interest at heart. Believe that.

Remember you are loved. You are loved by me, by your mom, and by your family and friends. But, most importantly, you are loved by God.

Always do your best. That's all anyone can ever ask of you. If you try your best, you can rest assured you will hear us tell you how proud we are of you.

Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up, even when you want to or when it’s easier. Google “Jim Valvano’s ESPY speech” one day when you are old enough.

Dream. This world is full of possibilities. I know you are just getting started learning the basics. And, you don't know much yet about jobs or careers, strengths and weaknesses or skill sets. These next 12-16 years are yours to learn, grow and explore. It's all to prepare you to spread your wings and fly out of the nest. The best advice I can offer you is to find something you love doing, and figure out how to make money doing it.

Remember, not all kids are nice. But, you can be. Treat everyone with kindness. You don’t know what each person is going through. Have a goal of leaving everyone you encounter better than you found them. That's just another way of thinking about that Golden Rule you've learned about in Sunday School.

Remember what's important. The world – or school, in this case – doesn't revolve around you. The teacher is in charge, not you. The goal of school is not to entertain you while mommy and daddy work. The purpose is to learn, and hopefully have a little fun while you are doing it.

Remember why you are here. All things were created by him, and for him (Colossians 1:16). We were created to glorify God. How we behave, how we speak, everything we do is supposed to make God happy. Trust us, this is even hard for us. But, it does give you something to think about as you interact with your classmates, with your teacher (and with your mom and dad at home).

You are approaching five years of age. I know this can be overwhelming. I just pray that you'll discover these words again, when you have the vocabulary to understand them, and they will meet you at a new stage in your life where they have even more meaning. You are never too old to hear them. These are things God is driving into the heart of your dear old dad, too.

In the meantime, as Dr. Seuss wrote so many years ago, “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way!”

Love,

Daddy

Brent Rinehart is a public relations practitioner and freelance writer. He blogs about the amazing things parenting teaches us about life, work, faith and more at www.apparentstuff.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Publication date: August 20, 2014