1. Always eat your lunch. Ham sandwiches hidden for a week in your schoolbag will make your bag smell worse than your sister’s shoes. In return, I promise never to put in your lunchbox anything that goes by the name of polony.
2. Learning to read is probably hard work at first but stick with it. It’s the one gift I wish I could give you but unfortunately it doesn’t come pre-packaged from Target. If you can read, you will discover the world.
3. Girls can be mean. I hope you never find this out first hand. But if you do, come and talk to me. I’ll tell you about the weeks in primary school when I ate lunch by myself in the toilets after my ‘friends’ abandoned me. Telling you this won’t fix things, I know, but you might gain strength by knowing I’ve been there too. And survived.
4. You can be friends with boys. Don’t worry about ‘boy germs’ for a while. You’ve got all the time in the world to play games with boys when you’re older. Right now, just appreciate the fact that boys are interested in things other than princesses and brides, and that it can be fun to be friends with people who are interested in different things than you.
5. Try everything. Even if it seems scary or dull or not quite pink enough, give it a go. I used to think I wouldn’t be able to write poetry. The first thing I ever published was a poem. If you try everything, you’ll find your poetry.
6. You have a wonderful and vivid imagination. Share it with people. Some of them won’t understand; let them go. Others will revel in it. Revel with them.
7. You’ll have days when you spill your lunch on your dress, you get a blister because your shoes are too tight, the teacher is grumpy, you’re learning about dinosaurs for the third time since pre-kindy and someone else takes the book you want from the library. Cry. Then curl up in bed with Teddy and dream the day away. Dreams make everything better.
8. If you promise to tell me about your adventures, I promise to listen. Always.
9. I’ll miss you when you’re not here every day. You’re my baby, even though you’re a big girl. Sometimes I might forget and treat you like you are still a baby. I’m sorry if I do. It’s just that sometimes you grow faster than I can let go.