Letter to My Sons #24

My Dearest Đạo,

I can’t believe our oldest son is turning thirteen today. It still feels like yesterday your mom and I brought you home from the hospital. I could never forget the feeling of how to take care of a tiny baby. What if I just slipped my hands and dropped you to the ground. If you got sick in the middle of the night, what would I do? Fortunately you were strong and resilient. You didn’t give me the anxiety that I had forecasted.

Being the oldest kid is not easy. You have to bear the responsibility of being an oldest brother. You used to complain that life was unfair, but now you seem to accept your role. I can see you are trying your best to care for your younger brothers even though they can get under your skin. No matter what goes on, no matter what happens, just always remember you guys are brothers for life.

Now that you are entering middle school, your academics mattered. My only goal is for you to be happy and for me the only path to happiness that I know of is to keep up your grades. Once you take full responsibility for your education, your mother and I will give you the freedom to be more independent. We don’t want you to screw up your life. With your voracious reading and fast learning, school work should not be too difficult for you. You just need to put in the efforts.

For sports, you love skiing and you are damn good at it. You’ve pushed me to a higher level: double-black diamonds. Today is your last day of the Learn to Play hockey program. You can join a hockey team after today, but I am not sure if hockey is the right sport for you. You are not the aggressive type of player. If you want to join the team, however, we will be more than happy to support you. I am also glad to see you picking up rollerblading again and joining me in aggressive skating.

Soon you will a like a bird flying free from home, but for now, you are still under our wings and we do all we can for you. I enjoyed every moment we spent together. I love you, son, and happy birthday!


Letter to My Sons #23

Happy sixth birthday my brightest Xuânshine!

I am happy with your development as well as your accomplishment. You are doing well in kindergarten. One of your teacher’s comments was that you routinely retell your personal experiences and stories. Seeing you are thriving makes me feel less guilty. I am so sorry that I have not spent time teaching you reading and practicing math. Your older brother still needs more help from me. I will get to you soon. I promise.

Fortunately, you are a quick learner who pays close attention; therefore, you excel in everything you do. You picked up skiing effortlessly just like how you picked up biking and ice skating. I wish you would continue to learn figure skating, but you seem to fall out of love with it just like your older brothers. You have started piano lessons and you seem to have the chops for it. Keep going, my son. I believe that you can do anything when you put your mind to it.

Your mother and I are very proud of you. As we are celebrating your special day today, we want to thank you for bringing energy and Xuânshine to our family. Being a younger brother, you try to catch up with Đạo and Đán from sports to video games. Being an older brother, you treat Vương with care and tenderness. You are a wonderful grandchild and a son. We all love you dearly.


Letter to My Sons #22

My Dearest Sons,

You are my lifelines. You are my saviors. Without you, I have nothing. Reality is harsh, ruthless, and brutal, but I accepted it. When my mother passed away, part of me had died. Even in her dying days, I came close to losing everything, but you saved me. I am forever grateful to each one of you.

The other day, I felt miserable. I went for a drink and headed to the skatepark. I shouldn’t drink and skate, but I needed to clear my head. As I was ready to hit the ramps, I was reminded it was time to pick you up from school. I packed up and left the skatepark. You saved me once again. I am telling you this because I don’t want you to ever do what I was about to do.

I want you to know that nothing can replace my love for you. Everything I do for you comes from a place of love, even tough love. Whenever Đán was frustrated with me, he would tell me, “I wish I had a normal dad. Why can’t I have a normal dad?” I don’t want to be a normal dad. I strive to be an extraordinary dad. A normal dad would drop you off at a skatepark, watch you skate, and tell you what you want to hear, “You skate so well. I am so proud of you.” I wanted to join you and to take on the challenge with you.

Most of the time you would rather sit in front of the screen than go to the skateparks with me, but you went because you wanted to make me happy. You might think nothing of it, but I treasured every moment of it. As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, I enjoyed rollerblading with you in the skateparks that had bright white lights. The thrills of dropping in the bowls, riding around the ramps, jumping off the benches made me feel like a kid again.

I am proud of the progression that we had made together. As Đạo pointed out, we were intimidated by the lowest ramp when we first started out. Now we can skate on almost every ramp in the skateparks. I hope that one day, you will think back and remember our time together. Thank you for making these unforgettable memories for me. Soon you’ll head to college and live your own life, and I will miss having you around.

Thank you for taking on this journey with me. As Xuân is picking up rollerblading, I can’t wait for Vương to join our crew.

I love you guys.

Letter to My Sons #21

Dear Đán,

Today you have reached the first decade of your life. It has been a wonderful experience observing you grow in the past ten years. From the day you were born, I could tell you were athletic. The first time I put you on the ice rink, you just walked by yourself without me holding your hands. You fell a few times, but quickly found your balance. Now you skate as HAM.

I enjoyed watching you learn ice hockey. Even though I have been tough on your performance, I am very proud of you. Keep up the great work and you will join a hockey team soon.

I enjoyed rollerblading at the skateparks with you. You inspired me to go hard or go home and vice versa. For a while, I could drop in at the top of higher ramps than you, but you have excelled so fast. Now I can’t even catch up with you.

You were also excellent at skiing, but you had decided to switch to snowboarding. I can’t wait to see you snowboarding this winter. I want to join you as well.

As far as academics, you have made some improvements in the first quarter. I know you can excel in school too if you pay attention. You are a smart boy. All you need is some patience and concentration on what you do. Just like sports, you can progress through practice and determination to learn.

I love you very much. Happy birthday, my son.


Letter to My Sons #20

My dearest Vương,

It’s hard to believe you’re turning three today. My little boy is growing too fast. I love hearing you developing your verbal skills each day. You have to keep up with your three older brothers. It’s a joy for me to watch you play, dance, and argue with your brothers. They can be rough sometimes, but they always loved you. You’re the baby of the family.

At three, you still have the loveliest smile on your face. You cling to your mom because you’re still on her breast. Let’s keep smiling forever, but let’s end breastfeeding this year. Yes, you can do it.

With your three older brothers’ activities, I haven’t spent too much time with you. I feel guilty about it. I can’t wait for you to pick up ice skating and rollerblading so you can join us. I am glad to see you trying out the scooters like Xuân. Now that your brothers have school, you and I can hang out together.

You still have a whole life ahead of you, son. Take your time, explore, and discover. Your mom, your brothers, and I are here for you and we will always be here for you. I wish you a happiest third birthday.


Letter to My Sons #19

My loveliest Vương,

I love watching you dance. I love seeing you smile. I love hearing you talk. I love witnessing you grow. I love observing you copy your brothers. Isn’t it great being the youngest one in the family? At two and a half, you get unconditional love from everyone.

You’re catching up fast. You can do things that your brothers do. You battle Beyblades, play video games, and even climb playgrounds way above your age group. I can’t wait for you to start ice skating and rollerblading so we all can hang out together at the rinks or the skateparks.

Every time I see the smile on your face, I miss my mother—your grandmother. You and her had such a special bond. I always loved the way you smiled and kissed her when she gave you candies. I saw the happiness on her face every time you were with her. She told me how much she adored you. I wish she could have more time with you. I wish she could watch you grow every day, even through videos and photos. I wish she could still be here with us.

When she passed away, I was devastated. You and your brothers gave me the strengths I needed to move forward. I still have my share of responsibility on this earth. I need to raise you and your brothers like she had raised me and my sisters. I can promise you that I will always love you. You can always reach out to me. I will always be right here for you.


Letter to My Sons #18

My Brightest Xuânshine,

I can’t pinpoint how our conversation started, but I remembered exactly what you had asked me, “Do you miss Bà Nội?” I replied, “I miss her everyday.” Then I asked you if you know where she is and you responded, “She is buried in the ground.” You are one smart five-year-old and I can rely on you. When one of your cousins took little Vương out of the ice skating arena, you notified me. I ran out of the building and saw little Vương standing in the parking lot. If you didn’t tell me, something could have happened to your baby brother. Thank you so much.

As an older brother to baby Vương, you are caring and loving. Most of the time, you let him have it his way. You didn’t hit him back when he punched you. I observed and appreciated your compassion toward your baby brother. With Đạo and Đán, you were more competitive. When you couldn’t fight them physically, you used your words to get them in trouble. You even admitted your exaggeration.

In our family, you hold the record for early accomplishments. I am not sure if Vương would beat your records, but you are still indisputable. You started to talk in complete sentences early. You learned how to ride a bike early. You started ice skating early as well. You can pick up ice skating techniques with not much effort. You’re a natural skater. Keep it up, kid.

I can’t believe you will be starting kindergarten soon. I hope you will excel in education just like you had excelled in ice skating. Out of my four children, you give me the least stress. I don’t have to worry much about you, but I love you just as much. You are my brightest Xuânshine.


Letter to My Sons #17

My Sweetest Đán,

You asked me why I always carry a book with me. You find reading boring. When I was your age, I didn’t see the benefit of reading either and it had been one of my regrets in life. I wished I had started reading around your age now. Books allow me to be somewhere else without having to be there physically. Books allow me to be in someone else’s head. Reading not only enriches my knowledge, but also makes my life much more exciting. I encourage you to give books a chance. Trust me, you will find reading anything but boring. Reading will also make your academic life much easier.

With the pandemic, online classes have been a huge challenge for you. It is not easy to sit still in front of a screen and listen to your teachers, but you do well when you focus and pay attention. I sound like a broken record, but your education is very important for you. Study hard now and it will pay off later in your life. No matter what you choose to do, your education will help you get there. So stay focused and do your best. I am here to help anytime you need me. I enjoy being with you.

I loved the camping trip we went together with your Cub Scouts. I admire your ability to make friends. No matter boys or girls, you can play with them all. You even found a friend in ice skating lessons. I hope that your friend inspires you to go further with your skating. You have a natural talent for sports. You can ski, ice skate, and rollerblade. You pick up techniques quickly. If you pay attention, you can do anything. I also admire your fearlessness. You fall, get back up, and do it again. You have motivated me to take more risks on the higher ramps when we rollerblade together. I wished I had the opportunity to learn these sports when I was a kid. Even though I am starting out late, I still enjoy them. I am not forcing you into doing anything, but I encourage you to stay active.

Cooking is a wonderful activity and I am glad you’re enjoying it. I love your Hanami Dango and hope to enjoy them in our next vacation. Your mother is happy and proud to see you in the kitchen. You’re already way ahead of me in culinary. Keep up the good work.

You have always been a sweet kid. You are kind and friendly. You love your brothers. Lately however, I have noticed that you are not as happy as you were before. You often get into arguing and fighting with Đạo. I understand that he could say things to provoke you, but you need to control your emotions. Calm down and don’t let his words get to you. You are strong physically so train your mentality as well. You are honest and you have my complete trust. You can come to me or your mom anytime. We are here for you. We love you very much, our sweet son!


Letter to My Sons #16

My Dearest Đạo,

Today is your day and you have made me so proud. You have finally worked up your courage to get your first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. I applaud you for your bravery. I understand your fear for needles, but I asked you to trust me. When I reassured you that you wouldn’t feel a thing, I was not just saying it to cajole you into getting the vaccine. I meant it because I took two shots and I didn’t feel anything. You still resisted when the time came for your shot and I asked you to trust me again. Even the pharmacist who administered the vaccine also confirmed that it only took two seconds and you would feel nothing. We were right, weren’t we? I am glad that you came to your senses and that you cooperated. I was so happy when you took that shot and I can assure you that the next one will be as painless. Trust me. Your mom and I wanted you to go through this to protect you. We love you too much to jeopardize your life. When it is safe for your brothers to get vaccinated, they will. Believe us.

I am equally proud to see you graduate from elementary school today. You have completed your Spanish immersion program. It had been a challenging year for school. You had to sit in front of the computer all day long and you had so much distraction right at your fingertips. Although you strayed off the track a bit, you had pulled through. Time has flown by so fast. It still feels like yesterday that I placed your tiny body into the giant car seat to take you home from the hospital for the first time. During the ride, I was extremely anxious. I didn’t know if we were able to keep you alive at home. Other than the jaundice concerns, you turned out well. Another milestone for me was when you picked up books and read voraciously. I was so proud that we are raising a reader. You have also excelled in sports such as swimming, skiing, and ice skating. You know how much I love ice skating and I hope that you will continue the journey with me.

Being the oldest kid is tough, especially in a Vietnamese family, because we expect you to be a role model for your brothers. They look up to you. When you treated them with kindness, they responded well to you. Đán, in particular, is very fond of you. He would do anything for you. You will be relying on each other in the world outside of our home.

Now that you have graduated from elementary school, you will finish high school and go away for college before you know it. You will succeed if you stay focused. Continuing reading will get you far. I wish I had an appreciation for reading as early as you had. Reading not only opens your mind to new information, but also lets you inside someone else’s head. So keep on reading.

Once again, I am very proud of you. I will always be there for you whenever you need me. I hope that I have earned your trust and your honesty. You know how important it is for you to be completely honest with me. Please don’t let me lose my trust in you. Because I love you so much, it hurts to lose that trust.



Letter to My Sons #15

My dearest Đạo,

When you and your brothers were downstairs having breakfast, your mom was still tired; therefore, she was still in bed. I came in to check on her. I lay down next to her and we had a mundane conversation about ice skating. You came in with a smile on your face and asked what we were doing. I told you that we were just talking and you went back downstairs.

Later in the evening, as we were ready to go to bed, you asked me again, “Seriously, what were you and mom doing this morning?” I replied, “We were just talking. What do you think we were doing?” As if you had waited for me to ask you that question, you immediate responded, “You guys were having sex.” I was a bit surprised and curious, so I asked you, “What do you know about having sex?” You replied, “Something really gross.”

My twelve-year-old son who doesn’t even care what clothes to wear is being aware of sex. I am glad you’re curious, but I am not sure where get the notion that sex is gross. We will work on that as well. Although I am comfortable talking about sex, I am struggling with it myself. Maybe we can learn from each other. So if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask. I am here to listen and I can provide you what I know from my own experience.

To me, the physical connection is as important as the mental connection. Sex without the real connection is not sex—it’s porn. If you have sex with someone you truly love, you will enjoy it much more. You no longer feel the fears, the shames, the guilts, and the sins. You don’t have to sneak around. You don’t have to be concerned about unwanted pregnancy. You don’t have to worry about sexual transmitted diseases. You don’t need to check out other people. Like Method Man said, “No need to shop around, you got the good stuff at home.” To get to that point, you will need to wait until you are mature enough and ready to make the commitment to who you truly love.

Having said all of that, not everyone feels the same way about sex. It is hard when you and your partner aren’t on the same page on sex. It could be done, but you really have to work it out. How do you know if you and your partner are on the same level or not? Before you decide to make the next big step together, test it out. Give it a try or several tries and you need to be completely honest with each other. Do you enjoy it or not? Set your expectations if you want it or not. If you don’t do this from the beginning, you will be regretting it or miserable on the rest of your journey together. You might even end up in a divorce.

That’s far down the road. For now, if you have any question about sex, I am here for you.