Dear Daughter,

Fall 2016 is a very odd and confusing time, honey. Even our seniors, who have been around for a longer than me,  find themselves wondering, “What the heck is going on?”

The United States presidential election is looming, just weeks away. The Republican nominee for President is a man called Donald Trump. This man is an arrogant, egotistical businessman whose whole campaign has been run on bullying, racism, sexism, and lies. And this is putting it nicely honey, I’m trying to be calm here. What this man has said during his campaign makes my skin crawl.

Then there’s Brock Turner. A university student who capitalized on a drunk girl’s vulnerability and raped her behind a dumpster. And while he and his father are “traumatized” that his future has been forever altered, the consequences for his actions were laughable – a mere 3 months in jail. Martha Stewart spent more time in jail then he did … something is wrong with this system, my sweet girl.

As a parent,  I’m trying to figure out a way to navigate these scary waters. How to not only understand what’s going on (if that’s possible) but also ensure a brighter future for you, my little lady, so that complete audacities like this don’t keep happening again. After all, my goal as a parent is to leave this world in a better shape then I found it.

But the reality is that we’re living in it right now. Live streaming and media overload us . Everything is happening right in front of me. Campfire conversations around why Trump would be a good President because he would run the country like a business. (And by the way he’s run a lot of businesses right into bankruptcy). Where men talk about Brock Turner and how what he did, “wasn’t that bad”. (Have you asked his victim how she felt about that? … it’s worth the read…) I’m feeling utterly overwhelmed by negativity and BS.

And I HOPE that by the time you’re old enough to read this, the world will be a very different place. There are thousands of women and men all around the world fighting for injustices and oppression, but I fear that those battles will continue far past the time when you become an adult.

So when you enter this confusing, unjust, and unexplainable world as an adult, honey… here’s who I want you to be…

I want you to be your beautiful seven-year-old self.

You’re seven (and a half) right now. You haven’t been tainted by media or peer pressure to be someone other than YOU. When you look in the mirror you see a strong young girl who can do absolutely anything. You define yourself by your capacity to find the right answer, to work hard, to try harder, and to never give up. You see strong arm muscles and legs that are meant for kicking. You talk about yourself with nothing but respect. Don’t lose that little girl!

You practice synchronized swimming, a sport that has you doing acrobatics while being upside down on your head, perhaps a perfect sport to prepare you for this crazy world!  In Tae Kwon Do you repeat your values over and over again with commitment and determination.  “Perseverance, Hard Work, Indomitable  Spirit” You’re a Girl Guide and skills of friendship, sharing, and leadership flow in your blood.

Right now, you’ve got the world in the palm of your hand. But when you come face-to-face with people who don’t get it, who want to force their judgements on you, dig deep and always remember what it was like to be seven. Remember that that little girl will always be with you. Don’t ever let her voice get lost. Ever.

So as you grow and are confronted with an aggressive boy, a belligerent bully or a mean girl in the office, here’s what I want you to do.

Sit and listen. And when words sting you in the gut and ring hard between your ears, that’s when you’ll know something isn’t right. Sit on that for a while before you respond. While you don’t have to agree with their words, seek to understand the values on which they are based. Always be respectful and model the behaviour that you choose to be treated with.

Then, when you’re ready, open yourself to a discussion with these people. Demonstrate that kindness, compassion, and respect will always win. These conversations won’t come easy at first, but always rely on the seven-year-old version of yourself. She’s strong. She’s got this. And no one will tell her otherwise.

Know that we are working to change this, honey, and that someday all this chaos will be nothing but a weird memory. Even though I can try to change the world, I won’t be able to protect you from every person out there with a skewed vision of reality. You won’t always be able to rely on me, your friends, or your teachers. You’ll need to rely on your gut, and your head. And your beautiful seven-year-old intuitions.