You turned 12 a few weeks back. You- my first born, my baby, one of my greatest loves – turned 12. As you like to remind me a lot this puts you firmly closer to a teenager than not.
I feel like I should be sad about this. I should be gnashing my teeth and wailing that you’re not a baby any more. Facebook tells me I should feel this way, as do all the sappy blog posts telling me to cherish everything. And I do cherish them when they are happening- I love that you still love to snuggle (even though we all know I don’t). I love that you still chat with me about anything and everything and that your stories still never end. I do miss your toddler cheeks and your squeaky voice – the way your little body used to melt into mine (now you come up past my chin, so if you melted, I’d fall over). But that doesn’t mean I want to go backwards.
I’m too excited about who you are becoming to wallow in it. Because life, my sweet boy, is about to take off for you.
11 was a tremendous year for you- full of school and friends and sports. You broke your first bone and handled it like a champ 99% of the time. You pushed yourself academically and athletically and started new things like boxing and academic games. You read the Hunger Games series, went to a camp where you knew no one and took first place in a state competition with your classmates. You learned how to argue fairly with friends, perfected the art of rolling your eyes and had more then a few meltdowns of epic proportions as your hormones monster started to grow (don’t worry, we’ll let you watch Big Mouth when you get much older- you’ll get that reference). You learned to care how you looked (still doesn’t mean you match, but you try) and spent more time combing your hair than anyone else in this family.
So, now here you are at age 12. You gradate from elementary school this month and start Middle School in the Fall. You go from a class of 14 to a class of 200 and you.cannot.wait. While I’m just as excited as you are, I hope you savor every minute of these next few weeks because come Fall, nothing will be the same again. Hold on to these friends because there is great power in friendships that start when you were 3 and carry on throughout your whole life. You’re going to look back on these years and realize how truly amazing they were.
So, as we’re on the precipice of so many changes, I wanted to share my hopes for you.
1) I hope you stay in contact with your elementary classmates and you use them as your touchstones when you move into the big school next year.
2) I hope that Middle School is kind to you and that you handle the changes about to be thrust on you with grace.
3) I hope you fall in love. Hopefully not with a girl yet- but with a class, a sport, a friend. I hope you take all the opportunities given to you and try something new and you love it with every fiber of your being.
4) I hope you stay kind. You, child, are a leader. Kids like you and they gravitate towards you. I hope you keep that charisma and never, ever turn mean. It’ll be tempting. You’ll see kids picking on others and sometimes it’ll be just so easy to make a joke at someone else’s expense. While I hope you’ll be perfect and never slip- you will. That’s part of growing up- but I hope you realize it when you’ve done it and you’re big enough to apologize and try better the next time.
5) I hope you keep caring- about your friends, your grades and your loves. I hope you keep striving to do better and reach higher. Apathy is a terrible look.
6) I hope as you navigate school you find your core – your ride and die group that has your back no matter what. I remember how the sands shifted in middle school, but at the end of the day, those who really loved you were there when the ground settled.
7) I hope you remember that words have power. The power to build up – and tear down. Try to use yours for good. Compliment instead of complain. Offer solutions instead of whining. Use your voice for good, for the betterment of yourself and others. Use your voice to stick up for others, to advocate for yourself and to call out the wrongdoings you see. You’ll be shocked at how loud you can roar, child.
8) I hope you never put too much stock in “cool.” Cool is overrated, over appreciated and ever changing. Staying comfortable in your own skin is the ultimate cool. Don’t be afraid to shake your butt to the music, show your enthusiasm and laugh until you cry.
9) I hope you know that we will always, always, always love you. Forever. No matter what. We are going to fight and we are going to argue and we are going to want to pretend that we don’t know each other some days. There will be slammed doors, eye rolls and crying – from all of us. But we’re still going to love each other fiercely, have each other’s back and always build each other back up.
Child, I cannot wait to see where things go from here. I cannot wait to see you stretch and grow. Stay true to yourself, stay bold, roar loudly and always, always aim high. I can’t wait to watch you soar.