Today my sweet daughter Allie turns fifteen.  I came across a letter yesterday, posted on one of my new favorite sites, brainpickings.org.  It’s from Jackson Pollock’s dad, to him, written in 1928.  While it’s not terribly emotion filled, it is, quite touchingly, what we as parents so want to convey to our children when they’re teenagers.  At least what I find myself wanting.  Helping them answer their questions regarding religion, their interests, their studies.  Letting them know we’re happy with who and what they are.

Here’s the letter, posted in Lapham’s Quarterly:pollock

Why Not Be Jubilant?

Whether you care about Jackson Pollock or not, or even know who he was, is beside the point.  If you’re curious and do not know, he was an American painter who died at age 44, in 1956.  Whether his father, when he wrote the letter to Jackson had a clue or not who and what his son would become is beyond me.  None of us really know for sure when our kids are teenagers.  We’re given a glimpse, an idea of what they might end up as.  But the total package is yet to be determined.

So today, instead of writing a letter to my Allie, I’m simply going to list out some thoughts, some ideas I hope she can glean from.

  • It’s alright to question God.  He can handle your questions.  He’s obviously patient, just look at all the stories about the Israelites [yes, except when they touched the Ark of the Covenant].  You don’t have to know all the answers today….or ever.
  • I’m happy that you love fashion.  And I understand that means you study and follow and know much about Anna and Grace and Cara and Marc [see, I knew he doesn’t spell it with a k] and Kate.  I get that you look forward to the next volume of Vogue.
  • I’m proud of you for trying out for the school soccer team.  It’s great to try something new.  It’s great to set goals.  It’s great to run as fast as you can and stretch yourself.  Good for you!
  • Despite what you might believe, I’m okay with you leaving organized music behind.  You don’t have to be a part of the school band to please me.  I want you to be involved in what you enjoy.
  • I recommend if you get married someday, you only marry someone smarter than you.  You are extremely bright, so it won’t be easy.  But at the very least, make sure he’s as intelligent as you.  Otherwise, you’ll end up frustrated and bored with dinner conversations.
  • Never stop reading.  You’ve taken a book along ever since you were small.  Continue this and you’ll find yourself more content and satisfied.
  • Journal.  Write.  Create.  Even if it’s only for yourself.  Trust me, it helps.
  • You won’t always want to pray.  You won’t always feel like God cares.  You might not today.  I recommend praying the Lord’s Prayer.  Even if it feels rote.  Discipline is good.  Use Common Prayer.  You might even find you enjoy it.  Somewhat.
  • I believe in you and your dreams.  I truly hope you have a wonderful junior year of high school studying abroad.  I will support you in making this happen.

Happy birthday!  I ♥ you.

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