A few nights ago, we were driving home from Vacation Bible School. We'd taken one of your best buddies and his brother. As we drove along a conversation began to play out from the back seat. The older brother asked if the two of you remembered hating each other. This caught my attention because it was front page news to me. So I listened a little more attentively. The brother said that of course he remembered hating you. After all, who could forget that?
"When did you start to be friends?" asked the older brother--who is actually only seven himself.
"Well," replied your buddy, "one day we decided to stop being enemies and so then we became friends. Right, Garrett?"
"Yep," you affirmed.
"Why did you hate each other?" the brother asked.
"Because everyone liked him and that made me mad so I decided to hate him," came the reply. It sounded logical enough--for a kindergartner.
"He was popular so you hated him, right?" asked the brother.
"Uh huh. But then I found out he was nice and we became best buds."
Of course I had to follow up on this conversation once we'd dropped them off. You told me that during the first week of school, your friend approached you and declared, "I hate you!" to which you answered, "Oh. Uh. Okay." And, apparently, from that moment on you were mortal enemies for a couple of months before you became the best of friends when he walked up to you and said, "Let's be friends now."
I asked you if you'd told him that all the hate was mutual. You said no. Of course not. You'd never hated him. I have to admit I was more than a little bugged by the fact that in all those months of me asking, How was school? Who'd you play with at recess? What was the best part of the day? Did you get a hand stamp? It never once came up that you had a mortal enemy. Boys.
Apparently, next year, I need to start off my line of questioning with, So, how was your day? Who's your mortal enemy?
But it made me so proud of you to hear that your friend declared war on account of the fact that everyone liked you. Not because I want you to be popular, but because I want you to be nice. I want people to look up to you because I want them to see something in you that is different. More than anything in this whole entire life, I want you to love Jesus and I want that love to shine through you and straight out into the world.
Yes, like every mom, I want you to be brilliant and exceedingly athletic and attractive. If I could turn you into a surgeon or a lawyer or a major league baseball player with the wave of a hand, I just might do it. But, child of mine, none of that really matters. You know Jesus. And you desire to make Him known. If I accomplish nothing else as your mother, I hope that, at ten and eighteen and twenty-five and ninety-two, you are loving and serving God. Because if you are doing those things, you will be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled.
So make a lot of friends, Kiddo. Just make sure you keep telling them about Jesus.
It was the great Eric Liddell who said, "God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure." I have no idea if, when you grow up, God will have made you fast or strong or coordinated, but I know that you sure like to try everything in an attempt to find out.
It's been a year since you surfed but, in one week, you're headed to camp to find out if you still love it. You've been growing out "surfer hair" since September and still don't have much to show for it but a mop of straw-like scarecrow fluff. Still, when it's wet and you're wearing swim trunks, it has the desired effect. It's the rest of the time that you look a little like someone's mangy mutt.
In addition to talking incessantly about surfing, this year you played t-ball and soccer, wrestled, joined a running club and took several swimming lessons. You won a blue ribbon in the 6-8 year old boy category for the 1600m by running it in 7:59. Forget the fact that you were the only 6-8 who ran that distance because you beat some 9, 10, 11 and 12 year olds. As far as swimming goes, you're begging to be on the team. The way our club works, you have to finish lessons first. You only have two levels left before you can be on the pre-competition team. You are always the youngest in your class and your teachers usually don't believe that you're as young as you are. Of course, you did inform your last instructor that, "My mom is a better swimmer than you." Dude, I know that you weren't trying to be rude. You were simply stating what you believe to be a fact. You know that I won medals and ribbons because you insist on carrying several of them around in your Bible. And as far as you're concerned I was the female version of Michael Phelps. It's funny how much those accolades meant to me once upon a time. Now I couldn't care less if they fall out of your Bible never to be seen again. Because you and your brother are my greatest accomplishments. You're what matters. And also because, Kid, I don't know if I posted faster times than your swim instructor or not, but right now I am so out of shape and so ten years older than her that I probably can not take her.
You're doing so well in school and I cannot believe that there was ever a time when I questioned whether or not we should wait to start you. I know you would have been fine academically if we hadn't waited but barely five is so tiny to be a big kindergartner and barely six was perfect. You were a leader. You were second in your class. You rocked that first year of school. I'll be honest, I'm a little terrified of what an entire senior year with an 18 year old is going to look like--especially if you continue to perfect that eye roll you're becoming so famous for--but we're just going to have to go ahead and push through. You're reading everything in sight now. We have to spell super quickly if we want to try to get something past you. You're doing basic math without being prompted. You still can't grasp how there is money on a credit card even though you ask me on at least a weekly basis.
I'm not going to lie. When I think about what it will be like to have you gone all day at school, it hurts my heart. I know you're totally ready and you'll be fantastic and I'm certainly not going to tell you that it's killing me inside but, one day, when you're old and grown, you can read this and know that the thought of first grade terrified me. For seven years it's been you and me. I suppose I prepared for this by sending you to three years of preschool and a perfectly successful year of kindergarten but I want to weep openly when I think of only having you for weekends and holidays. It's like I divorced your school and they got custody. Sure, I could home school you except--do you hear that? That's me laughing manically. You and I, we would need direct revelation from God before we ever embarked on something as ridiculous as ME homeschooling YOU. Oh the tears that would flow--and not just mine. You'd be crying, too. And oh the stomping of feet and the throwing of tantrums--and not just you. I'd be stomping, too. So I'll send you back to school in just a few weeks. And I'll deal with it.
In other news, you've gone from hating accents with a passion to walking around, in a high-pitched girly voice and saying, "I am from British. I am Britain." Doesn't matter how many times we tell you that you need to switch those around, you are always from British. Although your accent sounds nothing like an English one.
We made progress at Lake Tahoe when you ate an entire piece of lasagna and declared that you don't hate it anymore. You also told me recently that you now like spaghetti and potatoes as long as you can dip them in ranch (not the spaghetti because, ew, spaghetti and ranch? No thank you). You still eat every fruit and vegetable (exception-avocado) with a great deal of enthusiasm. Thank you, Son. You make me proud.
Buddy, lastly, I want you to know something. We have put you IN THIS WORLD. We don't want you to be OF THIS WORLD, but we want you to be ever present in it. We want you to shine on your public school campus because someone has to. That's a lot to put on a seven-year-old but you astound us. Last year, you sat your buddy down on the carpet during free centers and told him that he needed Jesus in his heart. Later that day, you were thrilled to announce to me that he accepted Jesus because you told him to and you led him in a prayer. I gently tried to explain that while that was fantastic, he maybe needed a little more information before he would really know what he was doing enough to invite the Lord to be HIS Lord.
Just the other day, I overheard that friend say, "Remember when we were on the rug and you told me how to make Jesus my Lord and then you told me to pray and I did? Now Jesus is my Lord." And it was so sincere. God did that through you.
Garrett, I couldn't be more proud of you. I yell and I mess up and I get it wrong, a lot. I'm so sorry for the times when I am blindly leading you throughout this life. But I need you to know that in the middle of the correction, when you're writing, "I will not disobey my parents," because you chose to deliberately break the rules, when you're rolling your eyes and being tremendously difficult, not a day goes by without me marveling at how incredible you are. Not a day goes by that I am not blessed, beyond comprehension, to be your mother.
Happy Birthday to my favorite seven-year-old.