A Letter to my Nephew

To my dearest nephew,

You don’t know it yet but you are privileged.  You may get better, higher paying job offers than your sister.  People will not assume you are a bad driver just because of your gender.  When you grow up, people will listen to what you have to say, even if it is ridiculous.

I watch you play on the playground with other children and am brought to tears by your compassion.  The way you include others in whatever game you have invented makes me so proud of you.  The way you watch out for your sister even when she is not paying attention touches my heart.  The way you, at family gatherings go out of your way to sit by grandpa and include him in the conversation because he cannot hear everything convicts me, because I did not consider doing the same.  Your heart is so big and you notice everyone around you.  You know exactly when someone needs a hug and you’re never afraid to be the one to give it.  You are a great mediator even if you don’t know what that means yet.  You are so good at making sure everyone gets a say and all the voices are heard.  You are the most caring ten year old I know.

And yet the day will come when someone will try and beat that compassion I love so much out of you.  You may be called a fag or gay.  Someone will tell you, you throw like a girl and instead of making you laugh it will hurt your feelings.  When you cry someone will tell you to man up, suck it up, or stop acting like a girl.  You will be expected to punch your friends and play sports, even if it is not really your thing.  And if you resist they may hurt you.  You will be expected to be physical, tough, and a womanizer, you will even be praised for it.  You will no longer feel comfortable having tea parties with your sister on the front lawn.  You will no longer laugh about that time you dressed up like a girl for a fundraiser.

My hope for you is that you resist.  That you hold onto your love and compassion for others.  Say fuck ‘em if you have to but never stop caring for the weak, the unnoticed, and the underrepresented.  Don’t let people get away with telling you you’re not a “real man” because you cry when you fall, or you like hanging out with your sister.  Don’t listen to them when they tell you that to be cool you have to play sports and date lots of girls.  Don’t let them off the hook when violence against women is treated as a joke or being compared to a woman is used as an insult.  Remember the amazing women in your life who are strong, beautiful, and capable (and could kick their ass if need be).  Never stop telling your mom you love her and when they tease you because of it tell them you had to say it because it is the truth.  Never stop hugging your parents because they will always need your hugs and never stop letting me kiss you on the head, even though soon you will be taller than me.

You are a bright, wonderful little person and I love you so much.  I hope that even as you get older you will still get excited to see me and be bursting to tell me about your day.  So, when you have to, say screw the world, and always be true to who you really are.

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