Email to J9 on her 32nd birthday

Happy Birthday, Janine.

I purchased a card for your birthday, but didn't send it because it "just wasn't right for you".
Instead, I am using this more modern communication technique in spite of its not being the "correct
medium" to use.

I have been wondering lately what it is like to be a girl or a woman in today's world.  What is it like to be
the child of a single man with few girlfriends who didn't understand much about girls or women because
he didn't have any sisters or hang around with many girls as he was growing up?  Given that, you have
gone on to form a normal marriage and are raising two boys.  It occurs to me that it may be difficult to
call on past experience with "what is normal" and "what do people usually do" with such a different
background.  You are doing just fine in spite of any disadvantages.

As you know, I am always trying to learn and am questioning everything.  Take cats and female animials,
for example.  My friend Tony grew up in the city but he and his wife decided to move to an 80 acre farm
years ago.  She liked horses and thought that she could breed them for fun an profit.  Their son
Christopher is 38 years old and was married in 2010 and now has two children.  He is setting up a pig
farming area on Tony's farm which consists of a lot of construction including welding.  Christopher is a
welder and knows quite a bit about pigs.  He recently gave me a lecture on the personalities of male
versus female pigs.  Boars versus sows.  His insights were much like the insights of Norah Vincent in her
book Self-Made Man.  When people were raised mostly on farms, perhaps knowledge of the difference
between the genders was more easily gleaned by having to interact with the farm livestock.  Reading
that book should be helpful to anyone raising children, especially children of a different gender than
your own.  For myself, I originally bought into the notion that boys and girls were the same except for
how they were socialized.  With more experience, I found that rule to be false.  When you have time,
Norah Vincent's book should be back on 10-28 at the Iowa City Public Library.

Self-made man : one woman's journey into manhood and back again / Norah Vincent
Vincent, Norah.
BOOK BOOK | 2006 Not Available at 2nd Floor (DUE 10-28-14)

Now about cats. Christopher grew up on a farm and thinks that cats should be left to roam free outside
where they will take care of themselves and eat the mice and other rodents.  People from the city often
believe that cats should stay indoors all the time where they will be protected from all of the dangers of
traffic and wild animals.  

In a simpler world we could simply set down a rule and teach it as a universal truth and insist that
everyone follow it.  But the world is not that simple.  As you teach your students "facts" don't forget to
teach them to be "open-minded", as well.

As I mentioned the last time we spoke, I am proud of you and the fact that you are taking on the
responsibilities of leadership.  If it didn't feel a bit awkward and risky doing these things, then everyone
would do them.  Keep up the good work.

Happy Birthday, Janine from your dad who loves you forever and ever.