I remember being told a lot of things growing up. I was told to clean my room, what I was doing wrong, to finish my homework. I was told to come eat dinner, what show we’d be watching on TV that evening and all the reasons why John Wayne was the greatest actor. I don’t remember talking much. When we ate dinner, we were not supposed to talk unless we were asked a question. Mostly, my dad dominated the conversation about what happened at work or his philosophy on this or that. I don’t remember ever being asked my opinion. A lot of the time I felt like an invisible person no one was interested in. This wasn’t really uncommon for the time- it was the era of “children should be seen and not heard”. But it is very difficult to form opinions when you are just told what to think and not given that opportunity to think through your own thoughts. I want you to know that I’m listening. I value the words that come out of your mouth. Sometimes they are silly stories or jokes and sometimes they are about heartfelt pain or a new idea. I want to hear every last one of them. I want you to form your own opinions and beliefs and I want to hear what you think about them. Growing up is really hard and there is so much to make sense of. Even if I’m in a deep sleep in the middle of the night and you need to talk about something, then I want you to wake me up. I’m here and available to you. In fact, I’ve been listening the whole time.