Letter from Prague
Dear Sunshine & Starlight,
I am away with work again. I am in Prague this time. The capital of the Czech Republic. Far away. It is very cold here.
I hope you are being good for your mum and being friends with each other. I know you cannot read this letter. I also know that if mum gave it to you, Sunshine, you would see the words on the page, but read whatever words came into your mind. Perhaps about princesses and some kind of monster who is mean. Starlight, I know you would have Teddy read this to you, like Teddy was your secretary. It is probably a good thing that you cannot read it. If you could, you would probably replace it with a story about something more interesting anyway. Maybe calling what was written here “stupid”.
I don’t want to hear any more about you calling other people (or each other) stupid. It’s such an ugly word to call some person (although things are often – maybe even usually – stupid, but it is almost always unfair to say this of a person). Sunshine – this is especially important for you. You shouldn’t encourage Starlight to call people stupid – and you shouldn’t call her stupid either. You are older than her – so people will expect more of you sooner.
Work is going well. People are happy with the work I have done, which is a good thing. It pleases me that something I have created has been so well received. Sorry – I must go back – you probably don’t understand. Despite what you think, I don’t actually make money. I am given money in return for the efforts I give to other people. It’s the same for your mum. Your mum and I use this money to pay for the house and our food and boring stuff like that. We also use it to pay for the fun things like toys and swimming and trips to see grannies and granddads and to go to the beach (it seems silly – maybe even stupid – to cost money to go somewhere; but that’s how it works!).
I am lucky in that I can make enough money to pay for these things by doing something that I like to do. Not everyone is so lucky; some people have to do things they hate to pay for the things they want to do. I am lucky, but I also work hard. It is important to concentrate on things (you probably don’t need to worry about this until later). When you concentrate on something and work hard at it, you have a better chance to do something that you really like. Most days, I’d like to go to the beach or take you for a walk or for swimming. But if I didn’t spend time on my work, I wouldn’t be as good at it. And if I wasn’t good at it, I would have to do something else to make money. Maybe even something that I hated. And if I was doing something I hated, I would have to work twice as hard just to be good enough at it for someone to pay me to do it. Also, I would be even crankier in the evenings and when I was tired. Can you imagine that?!
I think if I give you the discipline (which means the concentration and the willingness to work hard) it will be the best gift you could have. Being happy and productive will be a better present than anything – even Baby Alive or Teddy or jigsaws or even books.
As much as work is important – it is not the only thing in life. Many things are much more important. And it’s important to remember what is important. What is important to me is you and your mum. That means no matter what I do – whether I like it or not – I have to take care of you all. Right now, I think the best way I can do that is by doing my job. This brings in the money that pays for the boring stuff and the fun stuff. So, you need to keep the important things in mind too. But I guess your mum (who has to remind me of this every so often) will be able to teach you that better than I.
I wrote to you today because I miss you. While work is going well, and that is pleasing me – only you folks can bring me joy. It is good to do a good job and be pleased with it. But without those you love around, you cannot really take great joy from it. Even the money you are paid for the good job is less important than feeling family around you to celebrate with you when things are going well. After all, family come round when things are not going well. This is even more important, but why it’s more important is probably for another day.
Even now, I don’t even think I would shout at you if you came in here and knocked over my ironed shirts or messed up my pressed suits. It sounds crazy, but I probably wouldn’t mind if you tried to use my computer and put your fingers all over the screen (can you imagine that? Being allowed to do that?)
I will probably never say much of this to you, and I don’t think it would matter if I did say it. Come to think of it, this letter doesn’t really mean much. What you will learn from your mum and me is what you see us do. That’s why I have to give up smoking and being angry a lot. Because I don’t want you to learn from me that this is a good way to live. But I am writing this letter to you to explain why it is I have to go away, and why I have to work hard. It pays for things – boring things, fun things – but really it is about making sure you folks are happy, and you grow up happy.
And I wanted to let you know that I do it because I love you. Unconditionally. Starlight, I know you think you love mummy and Sunshine loves me, but I think deep down (not so deep as your nappy, but maybe somewhere in your belly), you know that we all love each other the same. The same, but different. Because we are different people. It’s not that we love different parts of each person – but just because people are different, they feel love differently.
Well, I must go now, because this letter has become intolerably boring, and you are probably both doing jigsaws and asking for ice cream now anyway.