To my daughter on her birthday…

Dearest Sophia, it was on a bitter cold and snowy afternoon in Norman that you were born, four years ago today. Today is your fourth birthday, my lovely lovely little girl.

You of wavy golden tresses and pale blue eyes, of precocious quips and pink pixie giggles, of knowing smiles and loving affection, you are a tiny tempest in our midst. I’m not sure if any other child in my household so leads the sway of others the way you can.

Of boundless charisma, you are a ringleader wherever you go. Among your friends, you are the chief instigator of games and pranks alike; with your siblings, you are both an antagonist as well as a darling. None can resist your charms and it is oft-remarked that “everyone loves Sophia.”

I suppose a contributing factor is your attractiveness, for you are a beautiful girl. I’m yet to take or see a photograph that does you any justice. Even your family nickname reflects this: “Pretty.”

You have inherited the golden hair and sky-blue eyes of your paternal grandmother Linda, a tradeoff because I fear you might’ve inherited her temper as well. Just one of the many “gifts” you received from my lineage.

From your mother you were bequeathed a sweetness and sensitivity to the feelings of others.

Not only do you like to have fun but you want everyone to be having a good time as well. You are quick to invite others into your play, and love to rouse everyone into a loud rumpus.

I learned soon enough to abandoned any attempts to classify my children by traditional archetypes, as they are usually far too simple to adequately capture the evolving complexities found within young children.

None more so than you, my little princess.

For, even as you are demure and reserved in some moments, you can soon turn into a wild-eyed and yawping Valkyrie if so provoked.

Though petite in frame, with soft features and delicate sensibilities, I’ve seen you hurl yourself into many a fray with eager savor.

So this zeal, combined with other factors, gives me pause.

I am also not blind to the developments of your flirtatious and coquette personality. You are a charmer, and a natural flirt.

The same traits that can be endearing with a child, can keep a father up nights when that same child becomes a teenager.

Like many children raised in an overtly and religious Christian home, the facts of basic doctrine are a “given” with you.

You seldom, if ever, need to be prompted to offer thanks for your food or to ask me to assist you with your bedtime prayers. You reminded plenty of folks during this recent holiday season that Christmas is “a birthday party for Jesus and you think that church is “when we visit God at His house.”

But I wonder about the trajectory of your life.

You are passionate, with a beguiling preternatural intuition about the world around you. You can figure things out quickly and possess a nimble, clever mind.

For example, in chess, you seldom demonstrate any real overall strategy or method, preferring to keep your opponent off-balance with superb short-term combinations and hope it works out in the endgame.

It never does.

This seeming inability (or unwillingness) to be mindful of what’s to come demonstrates a certain obdurate stubbornness that I recognize all too well.

I hope you will learn the folly of this far sooner than your headstrong and foolish father. But I hope you never lose your abounding love for people, and affection for your loved ones…  it is one of your loveliest traits.

So have a very happy 4th birthday “Pretty,” I so look forward to learning more about you with this year.

May our Lord help me raise you well, that you will grow into a strong and Godly woman.

With love, your devoted father,



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