A Letter to My Daughter upon her birthday!
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  Posted June 4th, 2014 by Zdenko  in Family | 7 comments

My daughter just turned 30-something!

By: Zdenko Kahlina

My daughter just turned 30… something!
My daughter Sanja will turn 30-something in few days. I am as old as dirt! I originally wrote this on her 30th birthday, but decided to re-post because I still feel the same. The last 30-something years have been a journey that I wouldn’t have missed for anything. I am not exactly sure where the time went. We sure squeezed in an awful lot of fun though, didn’t we?

A lot has happened in her life in last several years. The changes began when she lost her belowed retriever Rheya. She traveled around the world with her best girlfriend and fulfilled her long standing dream for traveling. She got married last summer in her native country – Croatia. It was her wish which we as parents fully supported. Her husband is a wonderful man full of life and they make a great couple. Then she sold her house in Edmonton and moved to Ontario, where she is now planning to have her own family. We are much exited to become grand parents to our third grandchild. But at the same time we realized that we are  Empty Nesters now!

Happy birthday Sanja, you are one of my greatest rewards in life!

Dearest Daughter,
I am a parent, but I never went to a school to become a parent.  I learnt on my own, mostly from my wife,  your mother. No one tells you how to be a parent. There are no operating instructions issued with each new baby. No owner’s manual, tech support, or directions to follow. There is no toll free number at which you can reach a soothing unintelligible foreign sounding voice to talk you through it.

Ignorance is bliss, as no one can be prepared for life with a child. And since each individual born into this world is a unique personality unto him or herself, no instruction book could ever cover the limitless variations on the basic product. As a parent, you are on your own… especially in our case. We did the best we knew at the time and just looking at what you’ve become, we can see that we did a great job!

Of course in days preceding your birth, none of this worried me. You had an older sibling that had served as guinea pig. That was going quite well. Well enough that the idea of having two kids was very appealing. Or not! I wanted my second child to be a girl. Nobody could guarantee me I would get a girl and not a boy again. But it happened and so now I have a daughter.

I was lucky that we got you! How much better can it get? There were a lot of different things to learn, lots of unfamiliar parts to deal with, and lots of new clothing expenses. And lots of new shoes to buy!! Thanks God, you started late with the shoe passion.

This was going to be a piece of cake… or so I thought. Raising a girl. I can handle that. The thing is, I was making my plans based on what had become the usual and expected, largely predicated upon what I knew about your brother; a contented and happy child who wanted to explore everything surrounding him at an early age. How was I to know that there was nothing usual or expected about you?

You were always a perfect child. So perfect that your mother and I were suspicious if something was wrong, and we didn’t see it. You learnt on your brother’s mistakes and never repeated them. You always came home on time, except that one time, which was not your fault, when babysitter took you for a stroll through the city of Zagreb – without telling anyone!

You always had a best friend. Maja, Kristina (Zagreb), Amanda, Karyn, Cherrie, Jodi, Leah, Lindsay, Tovah, Jennifer… to name only a few. And your friends love you. A party girl! Adding water to my liquor at home, so I wouldn’t find out how much was missing!

You were a good student, never without a homework or late in the class. You never met an activity that you didn’t want to try-well, the exception would be anything involving sports. That’s probable because I was myself involved in sport all my life, and you didn’t want to compete with me.  Your sports career was always an iffy proposition as while you have considerable athletic talent you never cared much for being coached or competing with others. You love skiing, yet you never pushed yourself too far, to actually fall and taste the snow.

My daughter the Fashionista emerged by the time you were three years old and demanded to be allowed to choose what you would wear each day. “Dressing ourselves, are we?” I remember one of your pre-school teachers asking. The question was elicited no doubt by the creative combination of plaid and polka dots selected that morning. Upon further reflection I realized that you wore what made you happy and feel good about yourself whether it went together or not. You never agreed with what me or your mom were wearing. Our color schemes were never up for your likening. Up to these days…

I miss the long car rides we, as a family took, with you kids in the back seat of the car. The detours in order to take in the scenic routes, with you and your brother yelling, “DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHERE WE ARE?” But we always got there didn’t we? Wherever there was. We traveled with our camping gear and my bike on the roof of the car, and you both loved it. You still love to travel, and I am proud of that.

Remember when during a visit to our friends in Zagreb, you went out and got lost? “Ljudi pomagajte” (people help!) you yelled while we were watching you from the window, but couldn’t help you, because you didn’t hear us?

Many days I have wondered how this larger than life personality came to live in my house. How did this kid with a plan who is so comfortable in her own skin come to be?

You are a grown person now, living in your own house. Luckily for us, old folks, you are only a few blocks away. I am happy every time you come for a visit, or when ever you call to check how we’re doing.

Since you moved out I am always missing all the daily news updates on all your friends as we took our evening walks with Dina and Rhea (the dogs) and I even miss tripping over all your shoes strewn throughout the house. I miss listening to you sing late in your room at night or the mummer of your voice as you talked to your friends on the phone. I know, I know, lately, since you got that darn iPhone, you are texting more than talking on the phone, but that just shows how technology is changing.

Two years ago we all went to Europe, to have one more vacation together, and to say one last good bye to baka, your grandmother. This was probable the most memorable vacation we ever had. I was happy to see you really enjoying it.


I am also very excited that you will begin the life that has been in the planning stages since you were twenty years old; traveling and all that… just keep in mind that should push come to shove, you are still my retirement plan! LOL! You are going to travel the world for next while and I know you’ll have lots of fun doing it. I wish you all the best and safe return.

I once read that children are like kites and that a parent’s job is to slowly unwind the string as they begin to soar. One day you realize that the string is let out and they are flying free. And so it is with you. It appears that my work is almost done as it seems that I am hanging on to the very end of the string. With exception when the sum pump suddenly stops working, than you still need me and I love it!!

So World, I give you my daughter, the Amazing Miss Sanja. I for one can’t wait to see what happens next. I guess if the truth were told, I wouldn’t have read an owner’s manual even if I had one. Happy traveling my daughter.

Love, Dad

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7 comments to “A Letter to My Daughter upon her birthday!”

  1. Comment by Fausto:

    Very nice!!! Svaka čast:)

  2. Comment by Zdenko Kahlina:

    Hvala lijepo… thank you! I appreciate your comments Braco!

  3. Comment by Kristijan:

    Wow, beautiful letter! I wish Sanja all the best for her birthday, and to all your family many more happy moments in life!

  4. Comment by Vera:

    Beautiful! You are the greatest father Neven and Sanja could ask for!

  5. Comment by Venka:

    Love your letter Zdenko, hope everyone is well, and Sanja is happy and safe traveling!

  6. Comment by Kara Hankinson:

    Really like this article, I hope you’ll write-up more quality articles such as this! book marked for future reference! =)

  7. Comment by Bernard:

    It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d most certainly donate to this superb blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to new updates and will talk about this blog with my Facebook group. Talk soon!
    Regards, Bernard

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