Letter to my daughter on her 10th birthday

Dearest Maya,

You are my firstborn and I have loved you since the day I peed on a little stick and the second line flashed blue! When you were born and they held you up, I felt my heart burst – as if a piece of that organ started living outside my body since then – or it could be the anesthesia – I was pretty drugged up due to the emergency C section and all! You are sweet and funny and kind and even though you look like me and shop like me – you are your own lovely person.

And today you are 10!! Wow, I don’t feel a decade older and yet here you are – all 4 ft 9 inches and 80 pounds of muscle and sinew and heart and temper and coltish grace. Now, in the coming years you will go through some major changes – it will be an exciting, scary, roller coaster ride for both of us – but always remember that I am on your side – unless there’s a tsunami and then its each man for himself! So, since I love to give advice and since you have no choice but to listen to me, here are my 10 tips on how to survive your pre-teen years!

1. Don’t worry so much about what’s ON your head and concentrate on whats IN your head. Your hair will frustrate you, cause you grief, have a mind of it’s own, and be used by the Meteorological Society to measure humidity in the air – but always remember – it’s …just…..hair!! Don’t let it rule your life – unless you pursue your dream of becoming a guinea pig hairstylist vet – in which case your own hair will be the least of your worries!

2. Be your own person – you are not completely defined by a gender, a type, an ethnicity, a nationality – no one is – you are all those things and so much more. You are a soccer-playing, horseback riding, street-dancing, chocolate-eating, brother-harassing, family-loving BEAST!! Embrace your inner monster!

3. Laugh with people and not at people – and like fine wine and heat, aim for a dry wit!

4. Keep a journal. It forces you to put into words everything that’s bothering you. As a side benefit, when I ask you – “What’s wrong?“, and you reply – “Nothing, leave me alone, I hate you“, I can then read your journal to find out! Everyone wins!

5. Love your brother – trust me, there is NO one else in this world that you share the same genetic ingredients with – so if you need a kidney, you may regret that time you beat up on him!

6. Be cheerful – because when people say mean things or try to bully you there’s nothing more annoying than a perennially cheerful person!

7. Thinking for yourself is hard but possibly the most important thing we can ever teach you. Read good books and question everything – except me – I am always right!

8. Choose your role models wisely – strong principled women and men, those who stood for science and equality and justice – remember the rest are just posers, headline grabbers.

9. When you start getting irritated – eat something – because nothing makes you crabbier than hunger.

And finally,

10. Be kind to the world and everything in it – including yourself. Be a steward of the environment. Stand up for yourself and others.

So happy birthday my funny, warmhearted, delightful Maya!! You are a joy everyday and you deserve the best parents in the world – unfortunately you got stuck with us! I’m so sorry for getting soap in your eyes when you were 3 months old, and pinching your finger in the car seat strap, and pulling your hair when I tried to comb it out, and forgetting picture day so your kindergarten school picture is a hot mess, and … the list is endless! But hey, you are closer to being ready for the real world!

And always, but always, look on the bright side of life!

I will love your forever,




  1. What a lovely letter to Maya. Maybe you can one day publish a book with all your random musings. I always remember you as the sweet but naughty girl of may be 3 or 4 years when Vasanti & I were doing our B.ED.

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