If Calvin were a typical child, I'd spend my days instilling him with these principles:

be kind. be honest. be forthright. show interest in those different from yourself. admit fault. be forgiving. be generous. be humble. hold onto hope. be curious. be grateful. be unassuming. take risks. be trusting with a modicum of caution. be accountable. be trustworthy. avoid making assumptions and jumping to conclusions. be courageous. be supportive and advocate for others. be empathetic. challenge authority. be charitable. be loving. celebrate diversity. be fearless. forge new paths. be productive. take time to relax. be patient. be tender.

I am acutely conscious of and lament the fact that Calvin won't grow up to express these principles as a teacher, doctor, philanthropist, climate activist, immigrant advocate, social justice champion, scientist, inventor, artist, author, or parent like many of my friends' children are no doubt considering. But as I write these words, I realize that Calvin in his own way exudes many of these virtues. Maybe they're written into his DNA. Perhaps he has garnered some of these ideals through our parenting, despite the fact I fail miserably at demonstrating some of them.

But Calvin is not a typical child. I like to think of him as extraordiary, a boy who daily shows his penchant for unconditional love, which might be the most-prized principle of them all.

Photo by Michael Kolster

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