Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be. - Shel Silverstein
I have been drafting this letter in my head for few weeks now and have had so many thoughts and emotions whirling around inside my brain. As I sit alone on Georgica beach in the town of East Hampton, looking out onto the crashing waves and periodically hearing the voices of young boys and girls playing under the sun, I can't but help reflect on the past five and a half years - the years that have quickly passed, shaping and guiding our family. Why the emotions you ask? It's only a few weeks away from my boys starting kindergarten. This may not seem so monumental and hopefully there are many more incredible milestones to be had, but I am a firm believer that these younger years are the most formidable. So here it goes. My letter to both of them, as even though they are identical twin boys, they certainly have their own personalities with different strengths and weakness.
Andy and I, every day, are amazed and truly feel blessed that in this day and age, we can all experience what it means to form, build and strengthen a family – however the loving partnership is made. It's (bleep!) hard work, the hardest thing we have ever done - but we would not have it any other way. And through this process of you growing up, the goals and the wants, the desires and materialistic crap is constantly changing and evolving, but what doesn't change is the love, respect, and admiration we have for the both of you. All the other stuff is meaningless and the happiest we find ourselves is during the simplest of times together, where ever that may be. So, you ask: what is important? What truly matters? The answer is just like the famous poem, everything you need to know about life, you learn in kindergarten. Well, it's now your turn to learn and I hope we have set the stage for the performance.
But when I truly think: what do I, Daddy, want you to get from kindergarten? I realize that I want you to learn to love to learn. When I went to school, I felt as if I was taught to memorize, complete the task, and move onto the next one. And when you do that, the system is broken. There is no yearning. There is no enjoyment out of the actual process. It is always about getting to the next level. Well, I can tell you now the levels are bullshit; they are made up and fake because who's really to say what your levels are? One size does not fit all. The idea is to learn to love the process. Stop and enjoy each stage of both education and life. Approach it with questions, with curiosity, and with yearning for more, but most importantly with a smile. Both of you have such amazing, heart-felt smiles and have exciting times ahead of you. Believe me: you are truly ready.
To Sebastian - try and slow your brain down a bit, you are too smart and you process way too much. Take a deep breath and really focus, really listen and engage with what is being asked of you and the task at hand. Take guidance and accept that you are going to be asked to accomplish some difficult problems and it's okay to fail, it's ok to ask questions or for help, but it's not okay to say "I can't". I despise that phrase. Yes, you can and yes, you will, but you have to take the teacher's and the administrator's help and advice and learn from their skill set to make them your own. Everyone is here to help - they are not obstacles - and everyone wants to see you succeed, but you must want it. You have to work at it. You should fail and pick yourself up again. And it's ok. Because every night and every morning both Papa and I will be there to make you whole again.
To Phoenix - keep asking those amazing and progressive questions. You are just like your Papa - he's always asking questions and searching for answers on YouTube and soon you'll be doing the same. Your mind processes life in such a different way. Harness and embrace that and bring it fully to your classroom. Just remember: you must be kind. You have to be a team player and really come out of your "Star Wars dark side" persona and cross over to the Jedi's. You are such a happy person inside and I would love for you to continue forming your individual and group skill set. The world we live in is with people, especially in this big city. I was so individualized in my education that it's just now that I am learning how to be a team player. It is through Papa that I am grateful for this personal change, but you have the opportunity to accomplish this now. Use your time wisely. It is only set up for your success.
And now that I am the only person crying on the beach, let me conclude by saying that I hope you take my advice to heart, but why would you? You're both five. But if you don't take any of it, just have fun. Life is so short and so precious that I want each and every day to be an enjoyment. I know you both will succeed and I know we will continue to have ups and downs with each new adventure, but our love and support will be unwavering forever – and it seems to be strengthening with each and every breath. So, thank you. Thank you for showing Papa and I the beauty of life. Good luck.
Daddy and Papa
Dr. Evan Goldstein is the founder and CEO of Bespoke Surgical – a first of its kind health practice that specializes in gay men's sexual wellness and offers an integrated, unique and unified approach to patient care.