Half way to voting, half way to military enlistment, half way to college, half way to adulthood (well, sort of). My #1 turns 9 today. It’s his last year of single digits, and all these half way to thoughts keep running through my mind. Last year he was half way to driving, and now, wow, he’s past half way there. My baby is growing up and it’s a beautiful, fascinating, and scary as hell kind of experience. These last six months or so have shown me that he, we, are on the cusp of a big change, a big bit of growing. Our conversations have become deeper, more thought proving. His sports schedule has become more hectic, more demanding, and far more competitive as he participates on a travel soccer team and moves up an age bracket in basketball. He was nominated and ran for student council – he lost unfortunately, but he really cared about winning not for the triumph of victory but because he really wanted to participate with the student council helping to make his school a better place. My #2 did not see the big deal; he liked the posters and the speeches, but emphatically stated, “Why would anyone want to do that?” Grades! This was the big eye opener for me; no more S’s and N’s he is receiving real letter/number grades, A’s and B’s and C’s litter his report card. Not to mention mandatory participation in the school’s Science Fair; a very large outside of school project that required his own individual thoughts and reasoning, with no parent interference. The Science Fair is also known as the helicopter parent weeding out process.
The first year of our babies’ lives they change from tiny little dolls unable to do anything to walking/stumbling little adorable beasts. Then that next year between turning 1 and turning 2, not a ton of awe inspiring milestones generally take place. It’s a growing year but mostly just fills up time in our lives – most years are like this. The year between 2 and 3 is my favorite when toddlers become little people, losing so much of their baby and showing their personalities. Age 9 to 10 seems akin to this type of growth year, it is a year I will watch my #1 shed more and more of the parental cocoon and become more and more the man he’ll be as an adult (the process has already started).
So, today as my #1 begins this next year, I have a brief message to him:
Enjoy this next year, your last year of single digits – it will seem to fly by and drag on all at the same time, life is like that. Every day is a new day, a new chance to do better, try harder, and get things right, but never forget the lessons of yesterday. Sometimes it will feel like the end of the world (maybe) but it never is, like I just said and you’ll hear me say it a lot, every day is a new day. Tomorrow always comes with new hope and there is sweetness in every day even the worst of them – remember to find that sweetness. Trying and learning are the most important lessons for you right now – things are not easy, life isn’t easy, it isn’t supposed to be, but life is better for our efforts. Unfortunately, life is only going to get harder from here on out; school, sports, and relationships, all of them will get harder. That also means good grades mean more and go farther, trophies are bigger, and friendship will run deeper. Remember I always love you, and I am more and more proud of you every day. You are growing into a man, and I love the man you are promising to become, but don’t rush it, I’m happy to keep my little boy as long as you allow me. Happiest of happy birthdays to my 9 year old boy!