As the only source of income in our family, I have to work. But being at work means I inevitably miss out on time with my children – and I believe communication is one of the keys to a happy family. So about a year and a half ago, on a creative whim, I decided to write my eldest daughter a letter – in the hope of giving her a little of that ‘letter magic’ we seem to have lost in our digital age. I like to draw, so I sketched a fairy to go with the note. I popped it into a pink envelope, posted it and waited to see what would happen.
When it finally arrived, two things happened. My daughter liked it (yay!), and her younger sister – who was one and a half at the time – wanted one too. (In my defence, I thought she’d be too young to really notice. But notice she did.) So the next week, I drew two pictures and sent two letters. One envelope was pink and the other was yellow – the colour of sunshine. That is how ‘Little Letters’ began – two letters once a week, every week, for my daughters.
The pictures are pretty simple – little girls in a world of flowers and backyard life. Sometimes I draw things we’ve experienced. Sometimes it’s just whatever pops into my head. I write simple little things like, “Have a wonderful day!” and, “See you when I get home” – because they can’t read yet and I think less is more anyway. It can take up to a week for the letters to arrive, and when they do, they’re often wet from rain or crumpled by posting. But that is what’s kind of cool about them too.
Sometimes my girls try to copy my drawings, other times they wrap up rocks with them. But that’s okay. The point is that when the mail arrives, they know the pink envelope is for Emma-Jane Rose and the yellow one is for Elise Coraline and that they are from Dad. We stick them on the fridge next to preschool paintings of rainbow unicorns and toddler scribbles and there they stay for a week or two until the fridge is lost behind scraps of old paper, and we clear them off and wait for the next ones to take their place.
The other day, as my eldest daughter and I were walking past the fridge, she pointed to a drawing of a caterpillar dancing with a little girl, and casually said as if it was no big deal, “Daddy, I love your drawings!” Then she trotted off outside to draw on herself (and her sister) with a felt pen.
One day I will bind the letters together into a book for each of them – as a gift for their 21st or when they have their first child. Of course, I’ll post them. And they’ll probably take about a week to arrive!