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For Zu at Twelve


This week you turned twelve years old. Last Friday, you complained about a sore right leg. Twice, you stopped swimming practice early because of the pain.

I recommended a massage and added you to my appointment. Our daddy and daughter's massage only happened four days ago, but do you remember your response when I asked you about the experience?

I said, “How was your massage?”
You said, "Oily. I feel oily."

It was your first professional massage. I hope the oil gave your thigh some relief. Your six-day-per-week swimming schedule is demanding, and your body enjoys recovery activities.

When you get older, remember massages help with the soreness after intense workouts. Please see a professional like the one on Sunday, not some strange boy looking for an excuse to touch you.

The therapist rubbed some knots out of my back. It was what I needed to refill my energy cup for your special day.

We invited your closest friends to the house for a pool party this year. I know you will enjoy your classmates and swim mates. Thank you for including your brothers on the guest list.

They like their big sister. I know you think they are annoying, but they don’t intend to bother you. Well, maybe sometimes they like to see you scream.

As the oldest, you have responsibilities to look after your brothers. One day, they will come to you for advice when they don't feel comfortable talking with your mom or me. So whether it's about school or girls, do your best to be patient and loving with them.

Your mother and I appreciate you for being you. We see your leadership at school, in the house, and at the pool. When we are not around, we want you to continue to treat others with respect.

You are tough. Tough people are in-tune with their feelings; they know when to turn their rage dials up and down. So you don't have to hit your brothers or anyone whenever they do something that makes you upset.

We can't control what happens to us, but we can control our responses. I know you've heard me or your mother say that to Emery and Kaz. But it also applies to you; self-control is a valuable skill.

Zu, I know you have cats to play with and sketchbooks to add drawings to this Friday. I also hope you make time to read and write something. Stay with this letter for a couple more minutes.

Do you remember how the massage therapist placed your hand in mine at the end of our appointment? Our linked hands symbolized the bond we created through the experience.

I will be there for you in life to hold your hand as I did on that massage table. Now, I cannot be with you every minute of every day for the rest of your days on earth. The possibility of that reality is weird, but I can promise to love you as long as I have blood running through my veins.

Whenever you need someone to talk to, know that I will listen and advise you when necessary. Does this mean that you are the favorite child in our family? No, but you are my favorite twelve-year-old daughter:)

Your mother and I are proud of you. With faith in God and yourself, we know you will continue to do amazing things in life.

Happy Birthday, Zu-Zu.

I love you,



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