Dear Little Jacqueline,
There are so many things that I should tell you now. They will make your future so much easier. First of all, stop putting mom’s lipstick on and kissing your “Dirty Dancing” posters of Patrick Swayze. This is something your mom will tell to family members and you will be mocked for it in later years.
Keep your “My Little Ponies” and your “Strawberry Shortcake” dolls. In the future they starve the ponies and make them too skinny and they turn Strawberry Shortcake into a sort of pastry-loving hooker with a skirt that’s too short and a creepy “come-hither” smile… Also hold onto your Mr. Bear. He’s going to get old and ragged looking, he’s not ever going to be blue again, but in your late twenties, when no one is around and you’re too sad for words, you can take comfort in that soft blue teddy bear that greeted you in the hospital nursery so many years ago.
Know that when your parent’s divorce it will be a good thing. Your mom will find out just how strong of a woman she is, and you’ll live a happier life with one parent who didn’t settle vs. two that did. Your parents will re-marry and you’ll love your stepmom with all your heart. She is an amazing woman! And you will love your stepdad too, he will turn out to be a solid rock in your corner whenever you need him.
Treasure the days you run around outside at grandma and grandpa’s - building secret forts and playing Army. Try not to fight with your cousins too much. Know that grandma’s chili won’t get any better as you grow up, but her sugar cookies will always be amazing! Savor those trips to the general store for 5 cent candy. In a few years, that store won’t even exist. Bonus tip: when you go sledding down the hill behind the store, make sure to pee first because you can’t drop snowpant trou just anywhere, and the walk home in pee pants is a long one.
Ignore the mean girls in 4th grade. You may think they are the bee’s knees now, but turns out they never leave Two Harbors and end up working at Pamida to support their 3 kids. Try to keep your bossiness to a minimum. While the experience will help you in your leadership roles in the future, your little brother will resent you for it when you’re a teenager. Your eczema will get better as you get older, so don’t let the nasty comments hurt too much. In the future, you’re not too bad to look at (you will however, never lose your Cabbage Patch Kid cheeks – bummer, I know).
Don’t worry about not having your first kiss in middle school. I’d say the wait makes it better, but you’ll be wiping spit off your face for days after that first one. Try not to make fun of your 5th grade science teacher, Mr. Mostrom. Your mom is going to marry his brother one day, so you’ll be seeing him around. Don’t get too annoyed with your brother. Yeah he doesn’t bathe a lot and he is extremely irresponsible, but when you get older, you will realize that he’s one of your biggest fans and when you feel like you’re all alone, you’ll always have his shoulder to cry on.
Fall hard for your high school boyfriend. That’s puppy love that you’ll never experience again. And when you breakup, don’t let yourself be sad for too long. There will be other amazing men in your life! Hold onto your belief in how you should be treated, and settle for nothing less. Bonus tip: if you’re sad just long enough, you’ll lose 15lbs and be sporting a size 6 pair of jeans! Sometime’s breakup diets are the BEST!
Sneak out of the house once for sure. Don’t worry about getting caught, just go. Cruise the loop in Canal Park, whistle at cute boys and sneak in before your mom gets up. Ask your brother for tips on this. He’ll get away with it all through high school.
Go away for college. Don’t stay for that boy, you’ll be broken up your freshman year anyway. Choose your major in psyche, it’s what you will always want to do. Even though you think he knows it all, do not pick a major solely based on what your grandpa thinks is “reliable”. Got to a college frat party, check out a kegger, try to be a little more open-minded and not such a goodie two-shoes. Invent a game called “beer pong” and patent that. It’s going to be a college party staple in years to come.
Marry that guy, it’s not going to work out, but it will be necessary to shape you into the strong woman you will become. It will also be the only chance you will get to have your dad walk you down the aisle. Remember that feeling. Make sure to take your dog in the divorce. Though you will feel like it’s forced upon you, she’ll be your best friend sometimes. Love her unconditionally.
Be picky with who you date. Don’t go on pity dates. Eventually you’ll find the guts to turn someone down, without feeling like a bitch. And ALWAYS listen to your little voice. It does keep you safe.
Don’t get overwhelmed by your illnesses. There are some little tiny friends headed your way that will change your life!
Recycle and eat meat that’s grass fed and eat cage-free chicken. STOP eating at McDonalds. Your mom will make fun of you for this. Give up the Dr. Pepper and switch over to ice tea. You will NEVER get over your coffee addiction though, take peace in that. That delicious cup of tasty goodness is sometimes the only thing that will get you through your day.
See your dad as much as possible. Love him with his flaws and all. Forgive him for his misgivings – there is a reason for it all. Insist he visit you more; take lots of pictures when he does. Celebrate a Christmas, his birthday and your birthday with him. You will treasure those memories forever! Stand up to your family for their judgments against him. Remember that no one is perfect and everyone has a story. His death will be unexpected and you will grieve for your loss, for the most part alone. Try not to hold a grudge against your family for this, for they know not what you are going through. Take solace in the fact that his friends and your step-family love you immensely and will NEVER let you forget what good man he turned out to be.
Try not to put too much energy into finding “THE ONE”. Though, I’m not quite there to share that outcome with you, I know it will happen. Be happy being alone before you start your relationship. Look at the relationships around you to remind yourself what you want and what you don’t want. Spend more time with your friends and be comfortable being alone. Read a lot – you will love your Kindle despite your initial aversion to the idea. Go to more concerts, they are once in a lifetime moments. Try to spend more time with your brother. Turns out, he will not always be annoying.
And last but not least, stay optimistic. Don’t let the pitfalls of life bring you all the way down. They may seem like too much as you go through them (and you will deal with A LOT before you turn 30) but you will always make it to the other side. Know that everything happens for a reason. Know your mom will always love you, no matter what. Know you are important to others and love yourself. You are a good person and you will get back what you give out to this amazing universe.
Good Luck Lucy Goosie (that’s a nickname your parents will always use)
A More Grown Up Jacqueline