I turned to a family member this week for ideas for this space. She told me “well, you haven’t written about your newest grandchild yet.”

Well, I sort of did. Right after she was born. Talking about experiences in the Children’s Hospital NICU.

Number seven. A blue-eyed beauty that shares my name. Born prematurely in January, she is now healthy and robust and though lacking in understandable vocabulary, is quite the talker.

But what kind of world are we bringing her into? Will she be judged by her gender? By the color of her skin? Will she experience hate and prejudice? Parents and grandparents worry about those things. Especially these days.

So, what can we do for her? What can we do to make the world a better place for her?

When all this turmoil is over, I would really like to think that her world will be more accepting, more loving, more tolerant.

As her grandfather, I want to show her love … unconditional love. To make sure she knows that I will love her as long as I’m around. That there is absolutely nothing that she can do to change that one bit.

I want to teach her the value of being physically active.

If needed, I will teach her how to ride a bike, play in the trees and swim like a fish.

I want her to respect her body and mind, understanding that those are hers and hers alone — that it is her job to take care of both of them. Maybe that means eating good, whole food but sometimes a girl just has to have a burger, fries and a milkshake.

And that means that she accepts her body, whatever shape it takes. Tall or short. Thick or thin.

I want her to love herself, to love the person that she sees reflected in my eyes.

I want her to learn the importance of being outside.

Of walks in the woods. Of the mysteries to be found in a creek bed. That bugs aren’t creepy but necessary.

I want her to recognize the fox, the deer, the bear, the bunny, even the lowly possum.

The robin, the mockingbird, the Eastern Bluebird. The fish in the sea. That she is a part of nature just like all those creatures. Even snakes.

I want her to understand that we are custodians of the planet Earth and it is our responsibility to take care of her, to nurture her, to protect her.

The air that we breathe. The streams and creeks and rivers.

I want her to be less dependent on digital devices than I am, to understand that real conversation is important, that human contact is essential.

I want her to experience the joy of family. That her siblings are the best friends that she will ever have. That her cousins are the best people she will ever know.

I want her to play a sport — any sport. I want her to find something that she is passionate about and pursues it with vigor.

I believe essential life lessons are learned on our playing fields. But let it be her sport and her choice. From that, she will discover the joy of movement.

I want her to know that there is a world outside her four walls, outside her hometown, outside her family and that she has a responsibility to that world. Yes, I want her to go change the world. It’s what she was brought into this world to do.

Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Email joeblackdpt@gmail.com to write to him.

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