Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Poster Totally Worked and Other Things We Learned This Year

Dear Oldest Child,

I made the mistake of asking you a question last night. I asked if you still wanted me to write you a birthday letter. Your sad face immediately told me that I shouldn't have asked and I should just keep on doing these things until you beg me to stop.

Hey. Want to play Axis and Allies???
It only takes 47 hours.

Stoooooop, Mom.

So, here's your letter. It's early.

Don't get used to that.

I can't believe that you're already done with a year of high school. At some point in the coming weeks or days or seconds even, you'll get your driver's permit, which is impossible because I swear that you were just getting on the bus for Kindergarten yesterday. I knew that I'd have to be the one to teach you to drive, and so far it's been less cringe inducing than I thought it would. You have a bit of a lead foot and a lot of work to do when it comes to parking...but I promise you with every ounce of my soul that I will make you learn to do it correctly.

That, and I will totally laugh at you in the process.

You'd think there was something wrong if I didn't.

Oh wait, I'm laughing with you not at you. Mmhmmm.

One of my all time favorites.
It's what we do here. Support each other whilst laughing.

But never while making videos that will live on forever, because that would be crazy.

You've made some hard decisions this year about life, the types of decisions that I certainly wouldn't have been capable of making at your age. Choices that told me that you're far more mature than I was, more than your father was. You knew that this was the year you'd have to get serious about finishing your Eagle Scout, and you chose to forgo winter drumline to do it. Instead of doing the thing you love the most right now, you chose to do the thing you should. You want to finish it. You knew it would be hard, if not impossible, to get there if you were doing drumline too. And you're almost there. All that stands between you and the finish line are little bits of two merit badges and your project.

I know that you agonized about it.

I know that you regretted stepping back from drumline almost every day, even if was just for this year.

The drums are waiting.
I know that you hated watching so many of your friends head to worlds, while you were here, working.

I know.

I know how hard it all was for you, but you did it anyway.

Drumline will be there next year, but the chance to finish your Eagle would have faded a little bit with each passing day if you hadn't seized this opportunity. And you did it.

Everything is percussion.
Life is percussion.
There really aren't enough words in the world for me to tell you how proud I am of you for making that choice, for sticking it out, for working so hard to finish it all.

It wasn't just that, though.


You stepped up, offered to help your father run your little brother's cub scout den. You took on more responsibility than you needed to. This time you've spent with your brother will be something he will remember for the rest of his life. I hope you know how special this is.

Den Chief
You have historically had a hard time pushing through the spring months in school. Forgetting to turn stuff in became a bit of an epidemic each March. I joked (sort of but not really) that I always needed to lecture you about it, at the same time, every year. I even asked the moms I know with kids older than you if this was normal. I hoped and hoped and hoped that at some point you'd outgrow it. I forced you to be accountable for missing assignments, I refused to go to bat for you with teachers over grades. I made you do it, and still...every March, the lecture would get dusted off and presented. I even made you a poster as a joke (sort of but not really), telling you to, "Get your shit together, Love, Mom", hoping that maybe someday I wouldn't have to repeat myself like a broken record every spring.

Then you know what happened???

April came and was nearly over this year before I realized that I hadn't needed to have that conversation with you this time around. You've just done it all, turned everything in, been accountable to yourself.

At the dia de los muertos exhibit, leaving messages
for your grandparents. 
You signed up to volunteer at the hospital again, asked if you could work at Comic Con. You're even helping your middle school band teacher wrangle the incoming 6th graders this summer, not because you have to or even because you were asked...but because you offered to help.

It's what you do. You help.

You're a giver.

You were put on this earth to share your abilities and your talents and your skills and your passions with other people.

You have a grand vision already laid out for your life, one that will take you, unsurprisingly, towards helping others. You want to be a nurse practitioner, one focused on under served areas. In your free time, you'll be a full time hippie homesteader, and I have no one to blame for that but myself.

Yet another instrument.
I could just as easily see you teaching music in a classroom someday. Music is just a part of who you are. I see it when you leap at the chance to learn a new instrument. I see it when you are picking out songs by ear on the piano then moving them to the guitars. I see it when you spend hours working on the drums. I see it when you gather up your baby brother in your lap and introduce him to the music of Fantasia, when you take him over to the piano and play with him.

I can't wait to see where you land.

You passed me up a very long time ago, but now you're about to outgrow your father too. Try not to tease him too much about it once you tower over him for good.

There are times that I look at you and I still see the little boy waiting for that Kindergarten bus. He still shows up sometimes. He's here when you aren't feeling well. You bring him along to the park. Whenever you are nervous or uncertain about something, he's there in the shadows. Looking for me, still.

The actual first day of Kindergarten.
Mostly now, though, you're a young man, one growing and maturing more and more with each passing day. I wonder all the time how you got to be 15 already, I wonder who that guy is when I see you across a room and then realize it's you. It stops me in my tracks sometimes.

You get in the car after school still eager to tell me whatever you're learning. You share the fun, the scary, the difficult. You ask questions. You don't just listen to what I say, you hear me, which is something else altogether.

You pay attention.

You strive to understand the things you know you don't understand.

You are still always asking questions.

You have great compassion for others.

Keep helping. Keep making those tough choices. Keep learning more about yourself, about others, about the world. Keep pursuing your passions.

How is this possible?
While you're at it, stay weird. Stay open. Stay honest. Stay true to who you are.

At this point it your life, you're light years ahead of where I was. You already know who you are. You're comfortable in your skin. You don't try to be anyone you aren't. You have sought out and found friends who get you, who accept you, who compliment you.

If you think about it, though, it makes sense that you'd be light years ahead.

You always did love Buzz Lightyear.

To Infinity and Beyond, Space Ranger.

When you were 2.
I can't even.
To Infinity and Beyond.

Happy Birthday, sweetheart. I'm proud of you.

(Mom, Mom, Mama, Mommy)

p.s. that video will never die. never.

p.p.s. I know that we haven't yet been in a Willy Wonka elevator, but I'm holding out hope that we find one someday.

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