Some things, like this letter, are better late than never. Like you. We waited and waited for the opportunity to be parents and, let me tell you, I'd have waited so much longer for the chance to be your mom. But, let me tell you something else. This halfway to sixteen business is ridiculous. I can't even try to process how it's been EIGHT YEARS since I held your tiny body in my arms for the very first time. But then, there you are, growing and changing and learning how to spell words like squirm and threat and square. There you are swimming and surfing and wrestling and running your way to manhood, one moment at a time.
Your love for running is such a perfect reflection of your personality. Steady. Dependable. Consistent. Focused. You just start running and you don't stop until someone tells you to. But you're also confident, outgoing and built tough. Your ego strength is through the roof and you've never met a stranger. Instead, I had to teach you not to take candy from a friend waiting to be made or climb into a car with a new acquaintance. I love that about you. Not the part where I worry that you'll be willingly kidnapped, but the part where each and every person is a friend waiting to be made.
The older you get, the more I can't believe that God chose me for you. You are, hands down, infinitely more fantastic than I am. You're so much more sure of yourself, so much more passionate about life, so much...better. I truly have to prayerfully keep my pride in check because I think you're one of the absolute best kids--your ridiculous eight-year-old fake laugh aside--and I want to shout your many accomplishments from the rooftop.
"QUALIFIED FOR THE ALL COUNTY MEET IN THE MILE BY PLACING 3RD AT THE REGIONAL MEET!"
"CHASED THAT RACE, A HALF HOUR LATER, WITH A 5TH PLACE FINISH IN THE 800--ALSO QUALIFYING FOR THE ALL COUNTY MEET!"
"KNOWS A WHOLE HECKUVALOT ABOUT THE BIBLE. NOT JUST FOR AN EIGHT-YEAR-OLD."
"WAS IN THE HIGHEST SPELLING GROUP IN 1ST GRADE. AND IS READING WAY ABOVE GRADE LEVEL!"
"RAN MORE THAN ANY OTHER 1ST GRADER AT THE FUN RUN FUNDRAISER!"
"CRUSHED IT IN WRESTLING THIS PAST WINTER BY GOING UNDEFEATED."
"HAS A HUGE HEART FOR JESUS!"
I also want to brag about how tenderhearted you are and how much you love and care about your family. You want to take care of us when we're sick or hurting and your spirit is so gentle and sweet. You love movies with epic battles but you also love musicals and you're incredibly excited that the two of us get to go see Wicked together in a couple weeks. Teachers, doctors, and coaches always comment on what a well behaved, incredible kid you are. Well...everyone except that nurse you battered with your neck brace...
You were tired and scared and hurting and wanted no part of wearing a neck brace and I can honestly say that I can't blame you but, still, we shouldn't hurl our neck braces at unsuspecting nurses. I still can't believe that you were just walking around with a skull fracture for months. Next time you're flying down the sledding hill and see yourself approaching a huge metal grate, BAIL! For the love of your own brain, Son, BAIL!
You make me want to be a better person. You, with your honesty and your friendliness and your gumption. You're exactly the person I want to become. Except, I don't want to tell knock-knock jokes that don't make any sense.
"Knock knock?" you'll ask.
"Who's there?" I'll humor you.
"Hammer at the door with some nails! HAHAHAHAHAHA!" And I just...I don't understand. Your humor is lost on me. I'm sorry. I really am. I'm sure it's funny if you're eight. I just haven't been eight in a very long time. And I was also never an eight-year-old boy. So that's why your jokes about burps and toots and bums aren't overly hilarious to me.
But, dude. I love you so much. And I'm not sure I could ever convey with the words given to me through the English language just how proud of you I am. I wouldn't trade you for all the tea in China, all the shofars in Israel, all the salt in the sea, and all the money in all the mints in all the nations.
Happy 8th. I hope it's all you want it to be.