It's that time of the year again. You know the one...when you get a year older, when you start asking me if I've written your birthday letter yet, when you prepare elaborate slideshows (never with stock photos) detailing the things you'd like as gifts.
The slideshow was sitting in my inbox last weekend.
As I'm writing this, I'm staring at your eternal pile of stuff, the one that is ever present on the couch in the living room. The place you've just staked out as yours in the house.
In that pile, the one that frustrates me every time I walk past it, is you. So much of you.
Little pieces of who you are, not just the physical representations. You leave a trail behind you, wherever you go. Always have.
There is the rainbow flag, the one that you had to have. The one that magically appeared on our doorstep one day. The one that usually resides in your backpack. The one that you've used as a cape during protests. The one that hangs in the classroom during the meetings for the gay/straight alliance. The GSA that exists because of you.
You know that you have a supportive family, that you have a great circle of friends. You know that there are other kids out there who don't have that support in their lives. You created this so that they would have a safe place, so that they'd have a room full of friendly faces who loved and accepted them.
You did this.
There's the sweatshirt you acquired from my closet. As you do.
There's the t-shirt that just came in the mail from your godmother last night. The one that she knew you needed to have. The one that would just make sense.
There's the bowl of cereal left behind...because there is always a bowl of cereal left behind. It's the gluten free chocolate one, of course.
The kitty cat headphones you couldn't live without and squealed over on Christmas morning, the ones that are the constant accompaniment to the ipad full of youtube videos. All the videos.
The envelope holding the receipts from all the boxes that arrived in the last month for that project you've been working on. I have to say...it takes a lot to make me say WOW and you did it a while back when you told me what you wanted to do for your NJHS service project. And you did it. You did it big. You managed to collect enough feminine hygiene items to fill up the van, all to benefit homeless and at-risk youth.
I know you hate talking to people. I do. I know that you get nervous about asking people for help. I know that you loathe giving speeches and meeting new humans. I know. You come by that honestly, by the way.
But you do it. You've already learned to force yourself to do the things that scare you.
And it's awesome.
You have piles of music on the couch. Piles and piles. You basically taught yourself to play piano just to spite your brother, which amuses me tremendously. The folder from district honor band, perpetually on the couch or table, as if it's on display or something. You'll be joining him in marching band, in steel drum band, in concert band. Maybe even drumline.
ALL THE BANDS ALL THE TIME.
It is totally a lifestyle choice.
You'll be in the Medical and Bioscience Academy too, finally taking all the honors level classes you should have been in all along. I'm totally serious about making you a paper chain to count down the number of days left in middle school. I'm doing it.
I spent all morning signing you up for leadership summits and technology programs and we still have to figure out which one of us is taking you and your sister to the science olympiad next week.
You're a nerd. A science nerd. The best kind of nerd.
But, unlike your mother, you don't care at all what anyone says or thinks about it. When I was your age, the sun rose and set on other people's opinions of me. You just don't care. You love what you love, you're good at the things you are good at, you spend time on what you like and you don't care what people say. And it's amazing.
Looking through the pictures of you in the past year, I'm a little teary. And a little humbled. And a lot in awe.
You're a badass.
|An occasionally terrifying badass.|
You are smart.
You are compassionate.
You are driven.
You are stubborn.
You are caring.
You are funny.
You are self-deprecating.
You are weird as hell.
To be all those things as an adult would be remarkable. To be those things at 14?
I mean, yeah....you're already disappointed in most of the people in the world. You spend time every day being pissed off about things. You see things most people are content to ignore. You care about so many things, whether they affect you or not. You can comprehend privilege in this society. You understand inequality and injustice already. You want the world to be fair and equal, and not in the superficial ways, but in the ways that matter. You understand the nuances and complexity of why things are the way they are and you want to get in there and fight and demand that they be better.
You want people to be better.
You demand that people be better.
I'll deal with the trail of cereal bowls as long as you keep leaving a trail of change behind you as well.
And always, always, always wear the tiny glittery cowboy hats.
I can't wait to see what you do with this next year.
And holy crap, kid. I'm proud of you. I'm so proud of you that I could practically burst.
Happy birthday, baby.
I love you.