Letter to My Sons #39

My Dearest Đạo,

It is hard to believe you are turning 15. I used to hold your tiny body in my arms and now you are even taller than me. You are becoming a fine young man. I might be strict on you at times, but I am proud of you.

Thank you for helping me out when I needed a hand. I can rely on you to complete the job. I ask for your help so you can learn to work with your hands. When I was your age, I didn’t fix anything around the house. I ended up not knowing much.

When we first moved into our house, which was when you were born, I hesitated to repair anything. Unfortunately, hiring a handyman these days is much more expensive than my own income. I ended up learning as much as I could from watching YouTube videos and trials and errors.

I used to lack the confidence to fix things on my own because I was afraid of making them worse. I don’t want you to lack the confidence like I did. Having some extra skills on your hands will always be useful. You don’t need to depend on others to do the jobs for you.

In sports, you are a fantastic skier. I loved shredding on the mountains with you. I hope we can continue to do so in many more winters to come. If you ever decided to pick up snowboarding, I can give you some tips.

I hope I drilled enough in your head about the importance of education. Call us old school, but your mom and I still believe that education is the standard for having a good life later on. When I was your age, I was more interested in getting that piece of paper than learning, which was my mistake. If you have to go to school anyway, you might as well learn as much as you can. Again, don’t be like me. I learned more after I graduated than I did when I was in school.

In regard to our digital consumption, I am deeply concerned, but I also understand it is hard to pull away from our screens. I didn’t do a very good job of guiding you and your brothers through the digital temptations. As you are getting more mature, I hope that you can manage and balance your time.

Happy birthday, my oldest son. I love you with all my heart.

Letter to My Sons #38

Dear Đạo,

Thank you for writing me a letter explaining your reasons for getting another phone to replace your broken one. I wanted you to write them down so that you will remember your own words so I won’t have to repeat myself over and over again.

The most challenging part of being a parent is worrying too much about your kids. On many occasions, my words had fallen on deaf ears. Many times, I just wanted to leave you to your own devices and not say a word. Can I still love you, but I don’t have to care? It is impossible for me to do. I have to care for you if I love you.

As an inexperienced parent, I had made too many mistakes. I thought being involved with your kids was all that I needed to do. I was so wrong. You have your own interests and they don’t align with mine. That should be fine. I have learned to accept it.

As a parent, my goal is for you to be proud of yourself, not for me to be proud of you. I am not pushing you to go the extra mile for your education. I just want you to complete your assignments and keep up your grades. In your letter, you indicate that you understand why I stress that school is your first priority.

Trust me, studying and earning good grades will pay off later in life. You only have three more years of high school left. Time will fly by and you will need to be prepared. You learn how to learn now so that later you will have a much easier time in college and your life.

You are a good reader and an excellent writer. These two essential skills will get you through anything in life. The only reason you were falling behind was that you didn’t put in the effort. You let your phone and your computer distract you. Again, the rules will apply if you don’t keep up your school work. So enjoy your new phone, but don’t forget your priorities.


Letter from Đạo

Dear Dad,

You requested that I write this letter, explanations for the use of a phone. This letter is also to explain the consequences if my grades slip. Here we go.

Use 1: Navigation. Phones with a GPS can be useful, to help me navigate around when we travel, an easily accessible map, compass, and other useful navigation tools, including letting you send me exact, pinpoint directions to you or places where you want me to go. I also need a device to call if I get into trouble and I need emergency services

Use 2: Communication. Assuming I have a sim card, and I have cell service, I can call and text you and mom. This can be useful when you want to find me, tell me something useful, or just need me to grab you something from downstairs. A phone will also let me talk to my friends, both through text and call. By being able to talk to my friends, we can make plans to hang out, bring stuff to events, help each other with homework, and keep up to date with things going on.

Use 3: Entertainment. Not really a “useful” thing, but a phone can keep me entertained, whether it be watching videos to playing games. I won’t do these most of the time, as they take a hit on battery and cellular data. I also like to use my phone as an audio player to listen to music.

Use 4: Writing. This has its own category, because you know I did this on my old phone a lot. Writing in the car is the main reason I have written over 200 pages of a story. The writing is also how I cure boredom in the car during long drives to Vermont.

Use 5: Memories. I don’t want to go somewhere I might never go again and not have something to say for it. A phone will let me take great photos and will allow me to store them for a few years, and to enjoy them later down the line.

I understand the consequences of bad grades, both in the present and in the future. In the present, grades mean you will ground me, take my laptop, and my phone. In the future, poor grades can limit my chances to get into a good college, a good job, and progressing in life. I understand that as my dad, you are concerned for my future, and want to make sure I turn out right.

Your Son,

Letter to My Sons #37

Dear Xuân,

Of course your mom and I would like to hear about your day. Tennis is a fun sport. I am glad you are learning it in PE so you can teach me how to play. I would love to see your patterns for Alebrijes. I can’t wait to read your realistic fiction story. It sounded like you had a fun, productive week.

Over the weekend, I had a wonderful time accommodating you on your Cub Scout’s camping trip. Even though you had a busy schedule, I enjoyed the time you and I spent together. I had a great pleasure observing you playing, learning, and interacting with your Cub Scout buddies. It also gave me an opportunity to connect with your buddies’ parents.

My goal for you to join scouting is for you to explore new territories, learn leadership skills, and connect with others. You are on the right path. I hope that you will continue to be open-minded, stay curious, and become independent.

Thanks for keeping me company at the skatepark. Thanks for reading with me on a regular basis. Thank you for your willingness to get tutored to improve your reading and writing. I can’t wait to read your letter next week.


Letter to My Sons #36

Dear Đạo,

I am sorry about your phone issue. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s fine to experiment with it. That’s how you learn.

You have been asking me for a new phone and I don’t have a problem with getting you a new one. I am deeply concerned, however, when you don’t know how to control your usage.

You don’t like it when I remind you about your education, but you haven’t proved that you can take responsibility for your school work. School should be your first priority, not digital usage. I worry about you, but my words have fallen on deaf ears.

I just don’t know what else to say to make you understand–or you just don’t want to understand. My priority is you and your brothers, but I am not doing a good job as a father. When talking to other parents about digital usage, I had learned that they were able to limit their kids to one hour a day, one hour a week, or none at all. I have not done that and I can’t now. I know the repercussions of limiting your usage.

Now that you are old enough, I hope you will figure out what to do with your life. Your mom and I do anything for you, but we can’t do anything without your participation. It’s still not too late.


Letter to My Sons #35

Dear Xuân,

Thank you for telling us about your week at school. I am glad you had a chance to meet Illustrator Alicia Robinson. I must confess that I didn’t know who she was; therefore, I had to look her up online. She is indeed a talented illustrator.

I always appreciated people who can draw. I wish I had drawn when I was a kid. I never liked drawing because I didn’t think my drawings were any good. I have seen your sketches. You can draw way better than me. You have a creative way of creating your characters.

Don’t make the mistake I made. Please continue to draw. Practice makes perfect. The more you draw, the better you will get. Once you figure out your style, you can become even more creative. You can even become an illustrator like Ms. Robinson.

You have a whole lot of future in front of you kiddo! Just enjoy yourself if you enjoy drawing. Talk to you in the next letter.


Letter to My Sons #34

My Dearest Children,

As someone who witnesses what your mother does for you everyday, I can’t even tell you the unconditional love she has for each of you.

Since the day you were conceived, she carried you in her womb for 9 months. Since the day you were born, she has not even for one second stopped loving you. She stayed up when you cried in the middle of the night. She fed you with her own milk and soothed you back to sleep.

As you are growing up, she is still doing everything in her power for you. She treasures your lives and I can guarantee you that she would put your lives over her own. I am telling you this because your lives are invaluable to her.

She brought you into this world. She does everything she can to give you fulfilling lives. She doesn’t ask anything from you. In return, I am not asking you to fulfill your filial piety. All that I am asking from you is to treasure your lives. Just that alone is enough to show your love for your mother.

Believe me, your lives are way better than mine. When I was growing up, it was just me and my mother. We were poor, but I knew my mother loved me unconditionally. When I was becoming a teenager, I had moments when I felt my life was boring, but never worthless. I didn’t have many opportunities, but I knew the only way to move up was focusing on my education.

If you think your lives suck, you have not experienced the world out there. If you walk out of our door, you will see it for yourself. Don’t take what we have built as a family for granted. I may sound like a broken record; therefore, I am writing this letter to you so you will be able to refer back to it later on.

Just remember this. I might not be a good father to you, but your mother’s love for you is unquestionable, unmatchable, and unbreakable. All a mother is asking for is to see a smile on her children’s faces. Her happiness is to see you happy. I hope you know or will understand what I am telling you.


Letter to My Sons #33

Dear Xuân,

Thank you for informing me about your week. From science to math to PE to music, you had a busy week. I am enjoying these Friday letters between us. Mr. Leonato came up with such a wonderful assignment for us to connect. I look forward to reading your words every Friday.

As you had mentioned in your letter, March is here already. I am a bit torn about it. The weather is getting a lot warmer, which is nice, but that also means skiing season is coming to an end. I want to spend more time with you on the slopes. You are a fantastic skier, but I also hoped that you would pick up snowboarding as well.

It’s a challenge to try something new. When I switched from skiing to snowboarding, I was having a very tough time. The snowboarding learning curve is steep, but it opens up a whole new level on the mountains once you get a hang of the board. If I can do it, you can too. You just need a little bit of patience.

It is so much fun when you can switch from skiing to snowboarding and vice versa. I enjoy both sports and I am sure you will too. We’ll work on your snowboarding skills next season.


Letter to My Sons #32

Dear Đán,

Congratulations on the good grades for the second quarter. I am very proud of your accomplishment. You have proven that you can do anything to keep your PC. I still worry deeply that you have grown too attached to your machine.

As a father, I am responsible for your well-being. I want to improve your life, not ruin it. I am lost for words. I can’t tell what is on your mind anymore. I don’t know how we get to this point. I am struggled to understand what is going on.

If helping you is hurting you than I am failing miserable as your father. Please tell me what I can do for you. If you want me to back off and leave you to your own devices, then just let me know. I need you to help me to help you make your life better.

You are a talented kid. I would love to have your rollerblading and snowboarding skills. It’s so hard for me to watch you not taking up interests in these sports, but I can no longer make you. It’s even more heartbreaking for me to see you glue to your PC, but I can no longer do anything about it. You have made up your mind.

You don’t need to stress out anymore. No more bans. No more restrictions. No more expectations. I trust you to make the right decision for your life. I’m not mad you. I have nothing but love for you. Do your thing, boy.


Letter to My Sons #31

Dear Xuân,

Congratulations on acing the Pueblo test. When you studied hard, the result showed. Keep up the great work. I learned about the Pueblo people as well from studying with you. If you need help with school work, I am here for you.

I am glad that we had finally getting into our reading routine. I noticed the improvement in your reading with just 10 minutes a day. You will discover so many wonderful stories through reading. So please keep on reading.

I enjoyed your special Spanish performance on “Pin Pon.” Your whole class did a wonderful job. I loved the part where you interacted with your classmate. I would love to hear you sing more Spanish songs.

I know you wanted to ski with your cousin Hân and today we made it happened. We had a great time skiing and snowboarding at Roundtop. You are a skillful skier. Keep up the good work!


Letter to My Sons #30

My Sweetest Xuânshine,

Yes, you are our sweet boy. You take meticulous care of your baby brother. You always play with him. You give him a bath. You even wiped his butt for him. In return, Vương adores you. He listens to you more than me. He comes to your defense when others mess with you. You get into heated arguments with him sometimes, but you never hit him. In fact, you don’t get physical with anyone.

I love your self constraint, but I am also a bit worried. That’s the reason your older brothers irritate the hell out of me when they don’t care to protect you. I can see that you look up to them and want to hang out with them, but they don’t want you to join them. They say I am biased, but I call them out when I see it. Until they figure out how to take good care of their younger brothers, I will always grill them.

Even though you have your sensitive side, you are a tough kid. You can always keep up with me and your older brothers in the sports we play. Thank you for keeping me company at the skatepark when your other brothers don’t want to join me. Thank you for skiing with me. You are a fantastic skier who can take on any terrain. I am also glad that you are trying out snowboarding. It is challenging at first, but you will love it once you get it.

With academics, you are a bit behind. It is my fault. We will get you the help you need to catch up. Once you can focus, you will do well. As you are getting older, you need to start paying attention. Happy eighth birthday, my Xuânshine. I love you with all of my heart.