To My Imminent Niece/Nephew:

Dear imminent niece and/or nephew creature: Happy Birthday!

You haven’t emerged quite yet, as I write this, but good luck on the transition from aquatic symbiotic organism to independent air-breathing organism.  Hopefully you have the most desirable quantity of fingers, toes, spleens, etc.

There are a lot of things we don’t all know about you yet: Your hair color, your eye color, whether you’re biologically male or female, whether you end up being tall or short, big or skinny, if you’ll have long fingers or buck teeth or if you’ll be double-jointed or able to touch your nose with your tongue. We’ll learn some of them in just a few hours — some in a few years. Soon, people will be calling other people, saying all these things about the shape and size and color of you, describing all the things we know about you that we couldn’t know before.

Yes, you’ll have fingers and toes, a weight and a length, hair color and eye color, and all manner of body parts and organs that everyone hopes will work all right. But, best of all, you have a brain! You will sense things nobody else has ever sensed in quite the same way. You’ll think things nobody else has ever thought in quite the same way. You’ll imagine things nobody else has imagined before at all! You will be your very own person, with your very own experiences. And this is very exciting!

I also have a brain, but it is currently housed in a body that is a thousand miles away. “Miles” are meaningless to you at the moment, of course, so let me tell it to you like this: you know how INCREDIBLY FAR AWAY your food is right now? A thousand miles is way, way, waaaay farther than that.

And that’s unfortunate.

Brains can express ideas through words, but it’s going to be a few years before you can understand them. “Years” are meaningless to you at the moment, of course, so let me tell it to you like this: you know how INCREDIBLY LONG it’s been since you last ate? A few years is way, way, waaaay longer than that.

And that’s also unfortunate.

You should probably also know that I am not awesome at baby-type maternal-type things: the feeding and the changing and the rocking and the nurturing and the general responsibility of converting a squishy eight-pound hairless primate into a thoughtful, empathic, productive, socialized, well-rounded, successful human being. So you should probably know that, even if my brain and body were more proximal to yours, I would probably just be looking at you in a studious and somewhat suspicious way, and/or worrying about doing something clumsy that managed to break all of your squishy parts. So, to be honest, you’re not missing out on anything right now. You’re in good hands over there! Hands that are way less likely to drop you.

It does certainly stink that I won’t often get to see you first-hand, to directly watch you grow, to learn those currently-unknown things about you,  and to watch as you learn them yourself.

But whenever you’re capable of emitting and comprehending words: Yo.

Anything you ever want to talk about, or learn about, or read about, anything you wonder about, anything you’re excited about, anything you’re uncertain about, just call on me. I’ll listen, I’ll talk, I’ll use ridiculously polysyllabic vocabulary (like “ridiculously polysyllabic vocabulary.”) I’ll share some of my ideas and words with you. You’ll share some of your ideas and words with me. We’ll read, and we’ll write, and we’ll talk. And that will help both of our brains become more awesome.

Because all the most important and unique things about you will only develop as YOU do, as you grow and learn and imagine. What kinds of things you’ll be interested in, what you’ll be good at, what will annoy you, what you will be excited about, what you’ll be afraid of, what you’ll create. You’re probably going to have a favorite food, and a favorite color, and a favorite band, and a favorite animal, and a favorite smell, and all sorts of Favorite Things Ever, and all sorts of Worst Things Ever. And they’re all probably going to change a few hundred times.  A month.  But some of the things you like and dislike, seek out and avoid, will stay the same your entire life! They’ll help define you to yourself and other people, in a way more meaningful way than anything about your body shape ever could. They will be what makes you You.

And that’s the strangest and most important thing to know: no matter how much you grow and change, or what kind of person you become, or how many different phases you go through in life, you’re still going to be You — and there’s a whole heap of people who are going to be looking out for you, no matter what kind of You you end up being. Life can be bothersome and difficult, and sometimes things don’t work out in the most ideal ways. But I hope you get all the possible chances to discover what makes you thrive, what makes your brain light up with wonder and potential — and to pursue those things as much and as often as possible, with all the love and support of all those many people around you, even if they’re not exactly nearby.

So, good luck out there, small human – whatever you look like, and whoever you become.

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