Letters to My Kids 101: Part 4

Here, elaborating on my top-10 list, are two more tips on how to write letters to your kids:

4. Single Out The Highlights. I could have written about anything. But I knew I would be better off writing about something. And better still, something particular. Something, if possible, singular. In short, I looked to tell the story that is mine and mine alone to tell. So I sifted through all my notes for promising prospects, the better to set some priorities. I felt the urge to zero in on memories that resonated as somehow special, on experiences that mattered, that meant something – to seize, above all, on moments. The momentous, even if only quietly so. It might be a single action or comment or an incident or a series of episodes – the day Michael first beat me in a sprint, the warm summer morning I held Caroline in my arms in the pool at our beach club. For me, it had to be specific. It had to be tangible. It had to be revealing — a moment of understanding and discovery, perhaps even a revelation. I scrounged, too, for anecdotes that might get at something larger – how, for example, a father might welcome his son surpassing him physically and the implications thereof. Disclaimer:You have the right to remain arbitrary in your approach. You may have more fun being freewheeling. This is supposed to be a pastime rather than a job.

5. Stick To A Schedule. Every Saturday or Sunday morning before breakfast, in the chair in our bedroom, I logged an entry in my journals. That’s what worked for me. Same time, same place, day in and day out. It keep the commitment doable, and so I easily found the time and energy needed. The pieces came fast, each materializing in an hour or less, and soon my pace acclerated. In a year, I racked up 50 little stories – in two, 100. Disclaimer: Do your stuff any time the mood strikes you. Going by clockwork or lockstep, or imposing any kind of discipline or organization on yourself, may well be all wrong for you. I respect that. Nobody needs to be a robot about it. So vary the days and hours and locations if that rings your chimes. The overarching idea here is to get it done — nothing more, nothing less. After all, your kids are waiting for the news you’re about to deliver.

P.S. – Part 5 will appear tomorrow.

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