Today he turns 17.
I don't understand how it's possible he's nearly grown, but I do understand how incredibly lucky I am to have had a front row seat for the last 17 years.
I recently came across this quote:
At 17, you're old enough to know better but young enough to get away with it.
Well if that doesn't nail 17 on the head, I don't know what does.
If you read Chasing Roots regularly, you've probably noticed that Will doesn't receive much "screen time" here anymore. There are a couple of reasons behind this shift, the first of which is simply that he doesn't like me to post about him. (We do, however, have an arrangement regarding special occasions as well as academic, musical, athletic, and extracurricular highlights.) The second reason for this shift is more complicated, interwoven complexly around the fact that as they get bigger, their successes - and their failures, mistakes, and missteps - also get bigger.
I'm certainly not implying that Will spent this past year failing, making mistakes, and taking missteps. I am, however, saying that periodic errors in judgement - commonplace for 16- and 17-year-olds - don't make their way into blog posts the way younger blunders did, as no teenager wants or should have their dirty laundry aired on the internet.
On occasion, one of Will's choices will have me thinking to myself, "how does he not know better?!" And then I realize that if he doesn't know better, it's probably at least partially my fault, since I'm the mom and all. At least I still have another year until he turns 18 (and a few months after that while he'll still be living in our family home) to continue teaching and preparing him for what lies ahead of him out there in the great big world.
Despite the occasional slip up, Will is crushing life.
As a junior in high school, he takes incredibly hard core classes but strategically starts his day with a study hall (so his brain doesn't have to wake up quite as quickly) and ends his day with soccer practice (so his body can burn off all of the pent-up energy that's been building since he climbed out of bed seven hours earlier). He plays the cello in varsity orchestra and competes with the chess club, pursuits I appreciate both because they activate different parts of his brain and because they make him somewhat intriguing, especially to kids who only know him as a soccer player.
Speaking of soccer, he still plays both club and high school, has been selected as a junior captain for the upcoming high school season, and referees city league games whenever they don't conflict with his own games. This past year he took his disc golf game to the next level, competing and placing well in four tournaments and therefore qualifying for the PDGA Amateur World Championships in July 2024.
He spent a significant portion of the summer preparing for the PSAT and the SAT, which he's taken once already and plans to take for a second time this weekend. He's toured two colleges, and hopes to visit a few more in the coming months. He finally ordered his letter jacket, which he could have done as a freshman; he held off because it didn't seem cool at the time, but now a letter jacket sounds like something he'd like to have to commemorate his high school experiences.
He enjoys getting together with friends, especially to play soccer, volleyball, disc golf, and occasionally video games, but he's also kind of a homebody. He likes to practice putting in the backyard, watch soccer games and disc golf tournaments, listen to music, take naps with Plié and Popeye, play video games with his dad, watch Ted Lasso with his mom, and take his sister to Starbucks.
He and Hallie are becoming closer. I credit some of it to his driver's license, which allows them to go places on their own, but also to the fact that they attend the same school again - for the first time in seven years - and that they've both started to realize how little time they have left together under one roof.
He's hard-working, responsible, and a strong leader; he's charismatic and kind; and he's clever, with a dark and dry sense of humor. The pride I feel as his mother is so intense that I have trouble finding the words to describe it...I hope he can feel it.
Happy 17th birthday, Will. I love you to the moon and back plus infinity times a million with a cherry on top.