Much of what I wrote last year still rings true. He enjoys and does well in school, even taking on - all for the first time - a seven-period schedule, two advanced classes, and a musical instrument. He gravitates toward competitive sports, but focuses primarily on soccer and running. He dreams of following in the musical footsteps of either Pentatonix's Kevin Olusola on the cello or The Beatles' Ringo Starr on the drums. He plays a mean game of chess, saves his money and free time for Beyblades, and loves a good video game tournament with his dad on the weekend. I am - we are - extraordinarily proud to call him ours.
He has settled - somewhat comfortably but with a few bumps - into his tween years. I no longer walk him to and from school, check his homework folder, or keep an eye on him during soccer practice. He can fry eggs, vacuum his bedroom, and clean toilets. He has plans for his own small business and can operate every piece of technology we own. This beautifully complicated stage of life is - at least to me as his mother - both tremendously satisfying and utterly heartbreaking.
Satisfying because Tom and I must have done something right to have raised such a kind, hard-working, self-sufficient 11-year-old. Heartbreaking because the years we have left with him under our roof are dwindling more and more quickly. No, he isn't yet preparing for his driver's test or packing for college (thank goodness), but he has begun to step away from me.
I try to remind myself that we are in a good place. That this growth is good. That the oft deliberate and occasionally unintentional separation of mother and child is good. As parents, we train our children to be, among other things, independent. We hope and pray that one day they will leave the nest as strong, confident flyers. The problem lies in the simple fact that "good" and "easy" don't often go hand in hand.
As he gets older and steps further and further away from me, I hope he finds his way here - to Wiggles (our first family blog) and to Chasing Roots. I hope he reads the stories, hopes, dreams, frustrations, and challenges I have affectionately shared about him, triggered by him, and with him in mind. I hope he can feel in my words the depth of my love for and pride in him.
In this vein, I decided to this year begin compiling for him a list of life lessons. Should a time come when either I can't or he doesn't want me to share these words of wisdom with him in person, he can find his way here.
- When you introduce yourself, stand up, make eye contact, and shake hands with a firm grip.
- Hold the door and offer your seat.
- Use "please", "thank you", "excuse me", "Ma'am", and "Sir".
- When in doubt, dress up.
- Keep people's secrets.
- Never turn down a breath mint.
- Give credit where credit is due.
- Take responsibility for your mistakes.
- Leave the world - its people, places, and things - better than you found it.
- Be strong enough that people know not to mess with you but soft enough that they know they can hug you.
- Eat your vegetables...but eat that cupcake too.
- When all else fails, go for a walk.
- Floss your teeth.
- Don't give up until you're proud.
- Remember who you are and that I love you.
Happy 11th birthday, Will. I love you to the moon and back plus infinity times a million with a cherry on top.