Wednesday, April 19, 2017

To The One Who Pushes Harder and Harder...

I haven't written this yet, but it's not officially your birthday yet, right? You weren't born until the afternoon, so technically this isn't late. Yet.

I still totally have time.

Winky face.



You won't be able to read it until tonight anyway since you have a track meet after school. Birthday = Hurdles. Somehow, for reasons that I don't fully understand, you are running and jumping over things on purpose. My dad used to do that when he was back in high school. He was actually really good at it, too...even ran the steeplechase. Held on to some records for decades. Clearly the affinity for track and field skipped a generation. I have always had bad knees, and somehow on hurdle day, they were always giving me trouble. Okay, maybe I milked it to avoid the hurdles. *runs away*



I know that if Grandpa were still here, he'd have been on a plane to watch your first race. He'd be so proud of you. Wherever he is now, I hope he's watching.

You see something like a giant hurdle and say to yourself, "I can do that".



And then you do.

About this time last year, you decided to compete in the triathlon over the summer, even though you hardly had the stamina to swim one length of the pool at the time. You pushed yourself, you developed the endurance, and you finished.



You've already started training for this year, making your pool distance on your first attempt and shaving time off your personal best. For your birthday, you wanted a road bike. And you got one.

Ever since you were a baby, you've been obsessed with going fast. Then going faster.



You were the one who spun the tires on the powerwheels Jeep bald as a toddler, now you're the one timing miles on the bike.

Let me just take a moment right now to thank whoever Craig is for inventing his list, because we were able to find you a bike for a reasonable price.

Just last night, after getting home from helping your dad with your brother's cub scout meeting, you whipped up a batch of white chocolate fudge. The house is usually littered with your cookbooks and magazines and recipes and ingredient lists. There's always something in the works, some new creation you need to try out.



This year, you started middle school, going back into the world of public school again. You were nervous at first, but have transitioned easily. You've made new friends, you've rekindled old friendships, you've branched out on your own. When the ugliness of adolescent drama has reared its head, you've weathered it with grace, learning the hard lessons in life that people will disappoint you, but that it almost never has anything at all to do with you.



I know how impossibly hard it is for you to not take things personally. I know because I am the same way. You're learning. I'm still learning. It's hard when you feel things as big as we do, it's harder still when people you love choose to hurt you.

I wish I could tell you that this lesson would end soon, that people would stop being awful...but it won't. You'll just get better at dealing with it all.

Don't let it harden you to the world, though. Don't let it change who you are. Don't let it stop you from putting yourself out there, from forming new friendships, from trying new things. Don't let it change your passion, your determination to do the right thing, your seeking of fairness and justice. Don't.

Those things make you who you are.

You were hesitant to sign up for the science olympiad team this year, not sure of what it entailed. Your sister would be participating for the last time before she moves on to high school. Though I know that it may not seem like it now, and certainly didn't seem like it then, someday you both will look back on this time and see what you achieved together.



Speaking of things you did together, you were on the same volleyball team too. Then you have been there, quietly supporting and cheering her on as she built the gay/straight alliance club at school. You even helped her find a dress for the gala dinner she was invited to attend.

That's who you are. You're always there, for all of us. You're always the first one asking if you can come along. You're always willing to sit in the stands, help out, cheer the loudest, hang out in parking lots at drumline shows for entire days. Even if your siblings don't always return the favor, even if they're too busy, too moody, too teenager-y, you always, always, always support them.



You have a special bond with the baby because of your willingness to help, and he is drawn to you especially. He blows you kisses every morning after I drop you off at school, and when he wakes up from his naps in the afternoon, you're usually the one he asks for. You're always the one that volunteers to wear him when we go somewhere that his little legs won't carry him.



You've grown up so much this year, learning to juggle all the responsibilities of school and homework and sports. You've pushed yourself in things I would have never even attempted. You've always got a second bag packed, whether it is for volleyball or basketball or track or the pool or a sleepover.

You're a journey in chaos at times, a whirlwind of activity and emotion, wrapped up in this tiny body that came with two hollow legs. You can out-eat anyone in the house when you're training...it really is impressive. It's a good thing you cook too.



You're a force to be reckoned with in this world, a passionate fighter who loves with your whole heart. You don't do anything small. You're not afraid of a challenge. You'll teach yourself if you have to. Then you'll start timing laps, keeping track of how much faster you went this time.

Keep running, baby. Keep going faster.



I'm proud of you.

Happy birthday.

...and I love you more first.

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