2. You are a dreamer of specific dreams. I'm particularly impressed with your knowledge of the jargon of such a career and your ability to synthesize the benefits and drawbacks. Additionally, it's noteworthy that you have been consistent and persistent about this goal for the entirety of your 7th year.
3. You are a writer of important words. John -- it is no secret that you and I go round and round about our shared domestic existence. I'm proud of you for always trying to make things better, for admitting when you're wrong, and for writing me letters about such matters. I'm also pretty darn impressed by your beyond-your-years recognition that sometimes your behavior is more like that of a teenager than an elementary schooler. I'm sure that this is not because I often stomp around mumbling about how I'm going to seriously consider boarding school during your teen years. (Ha!). Actually, I'm sure that it's because of me that you sometimes act like a spoiled angry teenager. Occasionally I play that role myself. Which is why the next thing I need to say is THANK YOU for always listening to my words (important or not) and for forgiving me even when I don't ask, as I should. When I do remember to acknowledge my mistakes, you are always gracious, and many times you even encourage me to forgive myself. On those days, I'm glad that you sometimes act older than your years.
4. You have a wonderful sense of humor which includes the ability to entertain and participate in my enjoyment of weirdness. There is no one on this planet (aside from my friends as they were in middle school) who can make me laugh like you do. I want to remember that you and I laughed so hard about the first picture below (marked "Exhibit A"), that your dad -- exhausted from a stomach virus and unable to yell loud enough to drown out our laughter -- began knocking vehemently on the wall of the "master" bedroom in the hopes that you and I would settle down.
John: You are all the things that I have come to be simultaneously thankful for and terrified of in life: health, fun, energy, hard work, and empathy. I'm thankful because I love ALL of those things about you; I'm terrified because I realize that losing any one of them might be devastating.
So, I'm eight times more thankful this year that I have the opportunity to SAVOR our relationship. I'm doubly grateful for the opportunity to know, enjoy, and value the particular eccentricities & talents of YOU.
As for your gifts this year... please accept the flaming football t-shirt that I gave you as a sign of my commitment to no longer complaining about your particular method of hugging: From now on, you can tackle-hug me anytime you want ... I'll try to be tougher. Regarding your dad's gift to you (the real-life, um, rocket), well, I don't think I have to explain that one -- everyone can see that it perfectly represents your fast, furious, blasting-forward personality, your constant desire to understand physics, and your ever-present spirit of adventure.
Happy 8th Birthday!