Thursday, October 27, 2016

To my first on his 12th

Dear John,

Every year, my letter gets later and later because every year I have to consider more carefully to discern what is the best way to say happy birthday to someone who has very likely changed my life more than any other person on the planet. It is now October 27th, a full 5 weeks after your 12th birthday, and I’ve waited long enough, so, I guess I’ll keep it simple and just say, “Happy 12th birthday!” (I’ll leave off my new pet name for you in an effort to save your reputation.)

POOKY BEAR! (sorry.)

During and after my pregnancy with you, everybody around us said, “This is baby is special” or “It’s a boy, and he’s lucky; I feel it!” We thought perhaps people said this to all people starting families, but usually it wasn’t just passing chatter. These people knew that you were special and/or lucky, and they had specific reasons:
  • your name had special meaning
  • your birth date was lucky
  • it was fortunate that a bird had pooped on my head during my pregnancy because that’s considered extra special good luck in Africa
  • You would bring us out of our joblessness (and truly, your dad found a job in the delivery room of the hospital where you were born), etc. etc.

And even now you do seem to have some “lucky duck” super power. You have many times been randomly placed on sports teams that are highly successful, you got into the Spanish immersion school in Nashville even though we didn’t live in that neighborhood, and of course there is the “Parking Fairy” situation, wherein every time I’m with you, we get a parking spot that could rival even the motorcycles or differently abled.

But really John, you are the amazing parking spot we landed 12 years ago. We have moved numerous times since then, and you have had some moments of not seeming so amazing (haven’t we all?), but you still make us feel pretty lucky. Nevermind that you are in the throes of some weird 6th grade/ tween desire to seem idiotic and angry … I still think you’re clever, and I know that you’re happy even though you often seem full of angst. Some of that is age-related, but some of that is, unfortunately, inherited from me -- like our proclivity for agonizing over decision making and worrying too much about what other people think. But those are few and far between. Most of the time we have to tell you repeatedly to stop whistling or singing because you happily bop around the house clueless to other forms of human life, just in your own world -- and that world seems relatively peaceful and content. When it’s not, and you are disturbed, you are starting to recognize it more and be conscious of the disturbance. And that’s how I know that you are growing up. Because little kids are less aware … they just act in order to get their needs met (appropriately or not). But I am starting to see forethought before you act and analysis afterward, and that is simultaneously beautiful and terrifying.

Here are a few of the things that you find particularly disturbing at this stage of your life, and I think you’ll see that these truly run the gamut from childhood fears to grownup stressors:
  • Anything your brother says
  • Anything your brother does
  • Any way your brother looks at you
  • Any noise your brother makes (I won’t go on, I think you can see the pattern)
  • Mondays
  • Obligations
  • My calling you pet names POOKY BEAR
  • Puke
  • The idea that people puke
  • The idea that there are germs out there that cause people to puke
  • The fact that you have to live in a house with people who might be carrying germs that cause people to puke.
  • Band
  • Getting locked out of the house (sorry, bud!)
  • The closet door and what’s behind it
  • Ventriloquists’ dummies  
  • Your very own collection of Nutcrackers, which has now been removed from your room
  • Clowns, not surprisingly
  • The following questions:
    • “Do you have homework?”
    • “How was school?”
    • “Did you brush your teeth?”
    • “Have you washed your hands?”

And here are some things you LOVE, which tow the line between childhood and adolescence:
  • Video games
  • Reading the same books repeatedly:
    • Wimpy Kid
    • Big Nate
    • Sisters
    • Far Side comic compilations
    • Guinness Books (yes plural) of World Records
  • Anything Nike
  • Expensive socks
  • The idea of owning more electronics
  • Drones
  • Nerf guns
  • Your GoPro camera
  • Sleepovers
  • When your brother sleeps in
  • When your brother has a playdate
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Ham and salami sandwiches with jalapenos, purple onion, lettuce, tomato, and honey mustard
  • The idea of a pet dog, cat, bird, ferret, rat, or pot-bellied pig
  • Nanny’s pies
  • Packages from Macy
  • Breakfast at Panera (you always order a breakfast quiche/souffle and a scone)

So overall, I think that you are, as always, both exactly where you should be and, in our opinion at least, WAY beyond. We love you even when you have those drama fits, we are proud of you even when you whine about how running sprints at soccer is RUINING your life, we are happy for you even when we yell across the house for you to PLEASE PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF PETER PAUL AND MARY STOP WHISTLING MEGHAN TRAINOR SONGS ON REPEAT. We wouldn’t trade your lucky duckness for anything, and I can’t wait to see what it brings you next.

With all my love,

p.s. I am amazed by your vocabulary. Just in the last week, I’ve heard you use: gullible, assemble, modify, sensitivity, and lag!