A letter to my niece on her fourth birthday

Dear Libbie,

Last month you turned four, and I’ve thought long and hard about whether to write this letter, the letter I wrote you last year proved really popular, so I was worried that I might not be able to live up to it, but in the end I decided there was nothing to lose and it didn’t really matter if it didn’t!

Quite a lot has happened since last year. We’ve all got more used to life without Grandad and Great Grandad Bert; your Mummy and Daddy bought a house in Devon and when Daddy left the army you all moved down. I love having you and Phoebe closer, and your Mum and Dad too, even though Daddy is working away at the moment. You started at pre-school and settled in really well and Phoebe learnt to walk, so she’s around everywhere. Sadly Nuby doggy died this year, but you were so grown up and sensible, imploring me to come and see her when I arrived to take you to school – completely matter of fact about it. You remain a brilliant big sister, and I’m delighted that so far you seem to have stuck to all of last year’s ten suggestions. You’ve also taught yourself, with a little help from Auntie Georgie, to take selfies, keep doing it Libs, they’re ace. As are you, you are one completely ace, inquisitive, kind and brilliantly determined young lady.


So what advice do I have to offer you this year? As last year there is nothing to say these are the most important things, but they might be useful.

1) Don’t take any notice of people who tell you that you’re bossy. If you were a boy people will probably say you’re a natural leader, but because you’re a girl, you’ll be called bossy. Take no notice, stay as you are, offer suggestions, join in, consider other people, but don’t stop getting involved.

2) Never stop asking questions. This was number two last year as well but it is so important it’s worth repeating! As you get older people play this trick on you where they suggest asking questions is dumb because it let’s on that you don’t know something. That’s ok, in fact it’s more than ok, it’s essential. People who pretend to have all the answers are just pretending. Even your teachers and your Mum and Dad sometimes.

3) Keep reading. When Auntie Georgie was little she was called bookish, like this was a bad thing. Grandad used to tell her to get her nose out of a book and get outside!! To be fair Grandad was probably right, you need both, but don’t stop reading. It’s a great comfort in life to be able to read a book, and you learn so much.

4) Spend time outside. The older you get the more time you seem to spend indoors. Even now you spend quite a lot of time inside, but there is so much to do outside, there are gardens to play in, great play parks and of course the beach. Sometimes when life feels tough, just spending time outside in nature can help.

5) Wear bright colours. I know you like pink and that’s your favourite, but you look great in all sorts of colours. Keep wearing bright colours Libbie, wear spots and stripes, trousers or dresses, whatever you like as long as it’s comfy. At Christmas you insisted on wearing your Doctors outfit and your beauticians accessories at the same time – and why not, you can wear what you like.

6) Dream big. Grown ups tend to focus on what you can’t do, what the problems or limitations are. These usually involve time or money or other things. Keep dreaming big Libbie, you can be and do anything you want to, now or when you grow up. Ok, Mummy and Daddy might not let you do some things until you’re older, which is annoying, but they’re probably right.

7) Sit quietly. You and I are both quite loud people, we like talking and being sociable, and chatting to folk. That’s fine, it’s really good most of the time, but sometimes it can be good to sit quietly, or walk quietly. I find that when I stop using my mouth my brain often works a little differently. It’s worth being quiet every once in a while.

8) Don’t worry too much about money. The older you get the more people talk and worry about money. Everyone needs a bit of money to exist, to have somewhere to live and food to eat, but often grown ups get so caught up worrying about money they forget about what’s really important, about being happy and kind and helpful and about spending time with people who respect you and make you feel good about yourself. Lots of these things don’t require lots of money, but they are worth more than anything else in life.

9) Listen. I know that adults nearly always have something to say, and they’re not always great at listening, but most of the time it’s important to listen to grown ups. Also it’s important to listen to your friends and other children, and your little sister even though she often says the same things at the moment. Remember sometimes you have to listen really carefully not just to hear what people say, but also to work out what they’re not saying. This is a lesson for life this one Libs.

10) Stay true to yourself. Now you’re at pre-school and meeting lots more children, you will find that some things are fashionable. There will be unofficial rules that are made, about what you wear or who you speak to, who you should or shouldn’t be friends with. Take no notice, be true to yourself, do what feels right. Don’t get sucked in to having to fit into someone else’s view of life Libbie, you write your rules, and you’ll go far. No-one knows you as well as you do yourself, actually right now Mummy and Daddy probably know a lot about you, but you know yourself, you know what is right and wrong, you know how to be kind and share and think about others, but you also know that you can be friends with boys and girls, you can be anything you’d like in life. If you stay true to what’s important to you, you’ll find rewards money can’t buy.

So that’s some thoughts to add to last year’s. You’re growing into a fantastic young person and I’m very proud to be your Auntie.

Lots and lots of love,

Auntie Georgie


0 comments on “A letter to my niece on her fourth birthday”

Well that is beautiful and full of good advice, especially the first one (unfortunately true) and ‘keep reading’ as when life gets tough there are always characters in books to turn to.

Valerie McKinlay says:

I wish someone had given me this sort of advice when I was 4.

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