Today my firstborn turns 16. It doesn't seem possible.
How did we get here? How can that tiny baby I once toted around on my hip now carry me? How can that rambunctious toddler I once strapped into a stroller now safely drive me around in an actual car? How can that child, who I guided for so many years, now steer his own ship?
If you read Chasing Roots regularly, you may have noticed that I write less about and post fewer pics of Will these days. He steps naturally into a leadership role when it comes to teams and projects, but he dislikes the spotlight and doesn't love to be "featured" here. (He said "I hate this" no fewer than three times while taking the photo above.) (We have an arrangement, in which I respect his wishes but reserve the right to post occasional school, sports, music, and extracurricular highlights along with birthday and tradition posts for which he approves the photos.) In that vein, today's post in his honor will be shorter and sweeter than posts in the past. A quick summary of who he is, and who I believe he is becoming.
Will continues to enjoy school. He's a fan of Chemistry and U.S. History, but he's still on the fence about Pre-Calculus and he dislikes English. This year he made Varsity Orchestra, hopes to retain his spot on the Varsity Soccer team come tryouts later this fall, and looks forward to competing as a part of the Chess Club team. He works incredibly hard, frequently putting in four or five hours of homework on weeknights and at least as many on weekends. He's incredibly close to becoming a licensed driver, which will come in handy when 6am high school soccer practices start in a few weeks. In his "spare" time, he plays soccer with Cavalry Soccer Club, referees city league soccer games, and plays disc golf with Tom, and this summer he entered his first disc golf tournament.
Will is a strong leader...something I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to say about him a few years ago. He's taken his bossy and domineering tendencies and molded them into something much more positive, productive, and, ultimately, powerful. Will is responsible and hard-working...in the classroom, on the soccer field, and on the disc golf course. If he wants to be successful at something, he is more than willing to put in the time, the energy, and the literal blood, sweat, and tears required. Will is funny...with a pandemic-honed (meaning it should probably be more censored than it is) sense of humor that is occasionally so dry we can't quite read him. He knows when and how to make me and others laugh, and is learning how to "read the room" and hold back when a situation doesn't call for humor. Will is also charismatic, kind, and mature - an altogether remarkable young man - and the pride I feel as his mother is so intense that I have trouble finding the words to describe it.
We've said goodbye to quite a few people in the last year and a half. Tom's grandfather. Tom's grandmother. Tux. A friend of mine. My uncle. Hallie's friend and my friend's daughter. My grandma's husband. Some were blessed to live long lives...others were not.
It is not lost on me that growing older is a privilege, one not afforded to many or promised to any, and I remind myself of this when I start to feel overwhelmed by the feelings of sadness that accompany preparing to send my eldest out into the world on his own. I'm tremendously grateful for every moment I've spent parenting this kid, and I will do my best to enjoy - or at least appreciate - every moment I have left with him under my roof.
16...how sweet it is.
Happy 16th birthday, Will. I love you to the moon and back plus infinity times a million with a cherry on top.