Goals for my Three Year Old

Dear N,

Yesterday, as you know, we had your parent-teacher conference at school. The only people more proud of the little person you are than your teachers were your dad and me. Like all people, as you round into a new season, you have fresh goals for your work, and your dad and I will help you with them at home as best we are able.

Goal 1: Understand that families share responsibilities of work and recreation. Your dad and I will strive to find balance in our lives between work and recreation. We will strive to stop saying that we’re too busy, or there’s no time, and instead find our way to yes. We want you to know that we consider loving you and your brother to be our greatest responsibility of both work and play. We hope that loving your family will be your greatest work and play, too.

Goal 2: Order pictures by sequence to tell a story. We hope that you will pause in your life to look back at what’s happened and see how everything is connected. How your mama’s belief she might go to medical school led in a direct line to not doing junior year abroad, but instead a sophomore winter quarter trip abroad, where she met your dad. How your uncle’s hatred of swimming lessons led in a direct line to earning computer programming languages for him to teach to your dad when they were young, so that your dad might ultimately move to Seattle to work for Microsoft. We hope that you will always, always be moved by story.

Goal 3: Write his full name. Your name took many months of play and work for us to land on. When you hear your first name, I want you to imagine your parents young and full of hope, full of ideas and dreams for you. When you hear your middle, I want you to imagine your great-grandfather, keenly attuned to the richness that beauty and history lend to life. I want you to call to mind, your grandfather, fiercely intellectual and a passionate learner. Your name is long, but we hope every letter will be written on your heart.

Goal 4: Speak in four to ten word sentences in Spanish. We hope that you always approach the world from more than one lens, that you see that the way that you know is not the only way, not the best way. We hope that you meet people who have nothing in common with you, and discover how very much like you they are. We hope that you feel confident in making yourself known to the world, and that you communicate with love and grace.

Goal 5: Recognize own family’s celebrations. We have tried to build a life for you that blends two families rich histories and traditions. We hope that you see these traditions not just as dates on a calendar, or as hassles or interruptions, but as the threads that you connect you to your ancestors. We hope you find these rituals sacred and soothing, and continue to build new celebrations as you grow and build your own family one day.

Goal 6: Use scissors with control to cut along a straight line and a curved line. We hope that you have all the tools of success at your fingertips, and that you choose to wield them deftly and responsibly. We hope you are both flexible and precise, and know that you are the creator of your own story.

Goal 7: Understand that each number is one more than the preceding number. We hope that you never stop growing and believing that there is a next thing to learn, to accomplish, to love. We hope that you know that growing, and learning, and accomplishing carry along with them everything that came before and build on their shoulders.

Goal 8: Understand that air is everywhere. We hope that you open your eyes and heart to the things you cannot see. We hope you remain open-minded and hunt for answers. We hope you neither dismiss things too quickly, nor jump on board too quickly, but instead question and research the world around you, but with a soul ready to believe that there are things that are unknowable.

Goal 9: Draw a human figure with major body parts. You are our little man, every part of you. When you were born, we counted each part over and over again, unable to believe that the creases behind your knees and the curve of your jaw were real, that we had created them. We hope you know that we continue to feel this sense of wonder about every part of you, in and out, and will as long as you live.

Lots of love,



5 thoughts on “Goals for my Three Year Old

  1. This is so beautiful. I was touched how you took your son’s goals for school and turned them into goals for life, because those life lessons are the ones that are the most important. I hope you are saving all of these posts for your children. They are a treasure.

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