Dear 24,

I’m not sure if you remember me… Hello! I’m 4. My favorite color’s red (but I think I also like blue because my friends like blue). And I love paper dolls! I also like playing hide and seek, but my friends always call me saling-kitkit. I don’t know why. Maybe that means I’m smaller than them? Anyway, I like playing outside so I HATE naptime! Ate always tells me to go to sleep every afternoon, but I want to play! Nobody tells you to nap, right? I wish I were you…

 

Dear 4,

It’s been a while since I last heard from you. And I guess you’ve never met me, so let me tell you a few things about myself, too. I’m 24. I like black and gray, even if people argue that they’re not technically colors. I love books (and I can’t wait for you to fall in love with them, too). But let me tell you a secret: I still love paper dolls, like you—I still have a shoebox full of them somewhere! I don’t play with them anymore, though. I don’t get to play much, anymore, actually. But don’t be upset; it’s all good. I just hope you’d stop hating naptime. I miss it. I wish I were you…

 

 

Dear 24,

I learned a new song today. It’s called “It’s A Small World After All.” I think it’s nice, but is the world really small? I think it’s not. I went to Ate‘s school and it was big. Like, REALLY, REALLY BIG! I’d get lost in it alone. But she won’t. Maybe because she’s also big. Maybe the world becomes smaller when you grow bigger. I can’t wait to be bigger than the world!

 

Dear 4,

Once in a while, I still hear people say that “it’s a small world.” But, just like you, I think it’s not. Every day, I learn a little bit more of the map, and still I know I could get lost. Especially alone. I’m still smaller than the world, just like you were. But it’s okay. That way I can always be surrounded by its beauty. That way, I can never outgrow its majesty. I can’t wait for you to see what I’ve seen. They’re not always pretty, mind you. But I can assure that they’re all worth it.

 

 

Dear 24,

Do you know the macarena? I saw the people on TV dancing it. I think it’s funny. Mama and Papa and everyone laugh when I dance it! I wish I know many more dances so that they would laugh more. Oh, I know! You could teach me! Maybe you know many, many more funny dances! Teach me, okay? Pretty please?

 

Dear 4,

I think you’ve learned the macarena well (too well, in fact. I haven’t danced it in years but I still know the steps)! Sadly, there’s nothing I can teach you. I don’t know “many, many more funny dances.” To be honest, I don’t remember the last time I’ve danced for fun. Rather, I think I’ve forgotten how to dance for fun.

Maybe you should teach me… Pretty please?

 

 

Dear 24,

I cried today. Papa got mad at me. He gave me paper and a pencil to practice writing my name. But I drew a princess. He didn’t like it! I think she’s beautiful, though. She has long hair. Tomorrow, I’ll try to write my name again so that Papa won’t be mad anymore. I want Papa to be proud of me. But it’s so hard to write, you know! Maybe you should teach me how. I’ll teach you how to dance, peksman!

 

Dear 4,

First of all, I’ve never heard anyone say peksman in a while. Second, let me tell you a secret: Papa’s already proud of you. He’d always been. There was nothing you can do to make him any less proud. Just pick up your pencil and try again. You know, you should ask him to help you—he’d be really happy to. It had always made him happy to teach you everything he knew. How I wish I met him, too…

Anyway, PS: I’m glad that you didn’t stop drawing (or writing!) after what happened!

 

 

Dear 24,

I went to school today. We sang songs, and colored, and ate yummy snacks. It was fun! I have many classmates. They play with me and share their crayons with me. I think I like it in school.

 

Dear 4,

I’m glad to hear that you liked school. I did, too, to be honest. Though, things get a little bit tougher along the way so get ready. Anyway, your friends are really great, you know? I still know many of them. Aside from the crayons and the games, one day they’ll share their shoulders to you, too. And their ears. And their hearts. Don’t forget to share yours! They’re keepers.

 

 

Dear 24,

Teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up. I think I want to be a teacher. Well, that’s what I said, anyway. But you know, I secretly wanna be a princess. You know, like Barbie! She is pretty and has very long hair. She’s also light-skinned and really tall and skinny. I’m not like that, though. I’m not very pretty. People always tell me that my nose is flat. Also, Mama always cuts my hair until it’s just below my ears.

I really want to be a princess… But when I look at the mirror… sigh. Maybe it’s impossible. Say, do you think I could ever be a princess?

 

Dear 4,

Wipe your pretty eyes so you can see yourself clearly. Your flat nose, and chubby cheeks, your short hair, and golden-brown skin—there’s nothing wrong with them. The mirror may tell you that you’re not the “fairest of them all”, but that’s perfectly fine. You may not know now, but be patient. Let the years teach you what I’ve learned—that what truly makes a princess is more than fair skin, and long hair, and a high nose. It’s more than pretty pink dresses, and sparkly tiaras, and even a prince.

Love, what makes a princess is her heart. Brave, but gentle. Ambitious, but humble. Just, but compassionate.

Love, your dream is not impossible. You’ve always been a princess. You will always be a princess.