Oh, Buddy. I find myself this year even more than others longing to be sure you know – really know- how amazing you are, how much I love you and how strong I believe you can be. Maybe partly because I’m in a near panic about 9. NINE. As in one year before 10 which is totally double digits and just on the verge on teen years in which you will grow up and learn to drive and become a technical adult and go to college and move away from me FOREVER. You are basically on the brink of gone. Sheesh. Nine.
The passion and ill-logic of that may make no sense to you at this point, but someday you will have a first born who will be this incredible human and you’ll think…OH.MY.WORD he’s like a for real piece of me walking around outside my body. It will change you forever in all the best ways. Just like you’ve done for me. And then you, too, might panic over nine.
Maybe the rest of the panic is because I see you changing. You are growing up. Which means some really awesome things. It means you rock the big brother/cousin gig (like when for months and months you walked CB to class every day). You slyly get in on jokes that used to just be for mommy and daddy, you help me with directions when I’m driving places and you can totally fix breakfast. Because we have seven kiddos at our house right now, you get to sit up front sometimes. It wasn’t my first choice, but the Lord has been sweet to make it a special time for us. Thanks for helping me watch for the green lights.
You’ve also learned (a little bit) of flexibility this year. Maybe partly because of the craziness that you have to roll with when you are the oldest of seven, but also in large part thanks to your amazing teacher. She totally gets your need for order and structure and rule following. But she has also helped you see that it might be possible to maintain those things while operating in a little bit of open space. It might actually be possible to solve a problem in more than one way. This is awesome for you!
I love the way you patiently play chess and Stratego with Cbug, who isn’t always the most gracious of winners or losers. He’s getting better at that just because you are an awesome big brother and always come back to play again. I love the way you encouraged your sister when she was learning to ride her bike. She values your opinion so much and you totally knew how much it would mean to her for you to cheer. And you pretty much rock my world every time you offer to tuck the little boys in and read them stories.
One of my favorite things about this year was when your Daddy told you you could talk to him anytime about anything and you’ve taken him up on it. Though sometimes you use it as a bedtime stall tactic, other times it’s been a sweet time for you to hide away in our room for a bit or on the couch after other kids are in bed and just bond with your Daddy. Most of the time you’ll say “Mommy, you can listen, too” and I gotta tell you I want to bottle that up and keep it forever. I hope you’ll always choose us.
But growing up also means you are more aware of what people think, and for the first time deciding whether you care. I remember the day at school when you came to me with tears welling because you didn’t understand why someone had laughed at you. It was one of the Fridays I’d come to eat lunch with you and you had asked a girl to sit with you. You asked her because she was next alphabetically and you’ve been systematically picking your lunch dates all year so everyone would get a turn. Because that’s the amazing kid you are. Turns out, this Friday the girl you picked was extra special. She doesn’t look or talk or act like other kids in your class, she needs a little special help sometimes. You didn’t choose her that day to be noble. You chose her because it was her turn. One of your buddies thought it strange that she of all people would be your pick. And he laughed. My favorite part was that you didn’t even seem to realize why he would laugh and you certainly didn’t change your system for taking turns because he laughed. And that’s pretty much the coolest thing ever, an innocence I want to guard. But I saw it cracked just a tiny bit that day. Soon you’ll have to make the same kinds of brave and strong decisions even without the innocence. You’ll have to choose what’s right fully understanding that others will think it strange. More and more what’s right will have to weigh out what is popular.
So that’s my prayer for you in this last year of single digits. May you grow in understanding of the variety of opinions and beliefs that swirl around you. And right smack dab in the middle of that new understanding, may you grow bold and strong and fearless for what’s right. Only by courageously doing what is strange will you fully embrace the power of the One who chose the strangest thing of all- sending his very own Son to die for us all. You will be a warrior for Him when you fight for those others might scoff at. And I want you to know without a doubt that your Daddy and I think you are able and equipped and brave enough to be just that.
I love you in the fiercest way,