I can vividly remember splashing around in the spa one night after swim practice. I was 9. My friend was about to turn 10 and that seemed so old to me. Double digits. I remember thinking that once I was double digits, I'd never be anything else. Even then, I didn't have the highest of hopes that I'd live to see 100. I couldn't wait to be 10. It seemed so monumental. Somehow, I'm now speeding toward 35 and I have a son who is bidding farewell to those single digits. I think I'd have a panic attack if I didn't also have a six week old. But then, I think about the fact that when he is 10, you'll be in college.
My goodness, life goes fast.
I love you so much. I love the boy you are and the man you are becoming. You're a gentleman, a sweetheart, and a daredevil. You're funny and kind and polite. You love God, your family, sports, scouting, and the idea of traveling to far away places.
This year you played flag football, baseball, and ran track. You had a blast doing them all but you really got into baseball. It was your first year without the pitching machine so there was a huge learning curve. You improved and really enjoyed playing second base. In track, you set a new personal record in the 1600m. (7.21.02) And you had fun learning the plays in football and even scored some touchdowns!
In school you did very well. Your report cards were great and you were never in any trouble. The 3rd grade put on a program and I was so proud of how hard you worked. You were very upset that you didn't get a speaking part but you put so much time into practicing the songs and you did such a fantastic job. As Stanislavski said, "There are no small parts, only small actors." This year you really found a love for reading. You've always been a very good reader--and well ahead of grade level--but you didn't really enjoy silent reading on your own. One of the series you discovered is the The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer. You cannot put them down. They exceed 400 pages and you read the last one in just a couple of days. I'm so excited for where this love will lead you.
One book you claim to want to read is War and Peace. Your mind is a steel trap for historical facts. You know so much about wars--especially the Civil War--, tanks, battles, etc, etc, etc. You still say that you want to go into the Coast Guard and, with your military mind, I wouldn't doubt it. Among your favorite things are historical documentaries. Son, this is not from me. This is all your father.
What is from me is your developing love for theatre. This year, we got to go see the Newsies together and you really enjoyed it. You like to sing along to my Broadway cast albums and, recently, like the rest of the country, you've become obsessed with Hamilton. You've begged me to take you to see it and, kid, if anyone could get tickets, maybe I'd consider taking you. Until then, you'll just have to sing along with the cast.
What you don't get from either of us is your daredevlish nature. For your birthday, you're going to the pool because you're finally old enough to jump off the platforms. Of course, you've already jumped off the two lower platforms because I said you could as long as you didn't lie about your age. Since no one asked how old you were, I said, "Go for it!" on account of the fact that you'd jumped from higher places in Hawaii when you were five. Also, you've been water safe since you were three so I totally trust your swimming ability. But, you have yet to plummet from the highest platform, the 10 meter high dive. You have been talking about this for years and, today, you are going to attempt to leap off. My money's on you and your rock solid nerves. I guess this will be your first test in training for your future job as a Guy Who Jumps Out of Helicopters in the Coast Guard. Raising you is not for the faint of heart, Son.
I don't know why I was blessed with the opportunity to raise you. I know that I waited a long while and God gave me a really good one. You were so worth the wait. Your spunk, your heart of gold, the twinkle in your eye, and your infectious laugh are all mine to cherish. One thing I am clinging to is our cuddle time at night. I thought this would go away by the time you were 5 or 6. At 9, I was surprised that you still wanted me to climb into your bed each night to lay with you. Recently, you've been opting to put yourself to bed so that you can read more words. You have been asking less and less for me to crawl onto your top bunk to snuggle with you. When you do request it, there is a palpable shift. You wrap your arms around me, instead of the other way around. I'm starting to feel very I'll Love You Forever about our relationship.
I'm proud of you, Kid. I love watching you learn and grow. You're a terrific big brother--especially to Will. Seeing him in your arms melts my heart every time. But then again, you've been turning me to butter for an entire decade. Thanks for being mine. Thanks for making me laugh and smile and love fierce. You'll always be my guy.