To my Doodlebug,
It’s time to sit down and acknowledge another year. And once again, the first words that come to mind are simply “I can’t believe how fast it’s gone by.” You’re a teenager now. And I can’t. I just can’t believe how fast it’s gone by. Even though I still see glimpses of the baby you were, more and more what I see are glimpses of the man you are becoming. As much as I love you, I’m so glad to be able to say I also really like you. I enjoy it so much when your guard is totally down and you’re just relaxed and funny and smart and thoughtful. You’ve always been a kid with a lot on your mind, and I appreciate it when you share those thoughts with me. I understand well your worries and anxieties, and I hope that it has at least occasionally comforted you that I share so many of the same ones. I hope it’s helpful that I get you.
This was another big year for you, my sweet Thing One. Another year where it makes me both joyous and tearful to think about all of the different ways you’ve grown up. You even LOOK more grown up. Basketball season made you lean, and you can see the results of the daily workouts in your shoulders and your waist and your calves. I’m glad you’re so good about showers and deodorant because it’s totally time for you to be paying attention to those things. And that silly tooth that has made you so self-conscious is finally being pulled into place. I love your braces smile, and your shaggy hair, and the way you look when you have to dress up for away games. You look good in a tie and a belt.
Girls like you too, and I suspect that first kiss is going to be happening sooner rather than later. You have a crush on your best girl friend, and I like her too. She’s clean and makeup free and wears jeans and converse. She’s always smiling when I see her and I think she looks like she’s comfortable in her own skin. She watched you play basketball this season too, and I’m happy that she cheers loudly. I know you like her, uh, shapeliness, and that’s totally okay by me that you like looking at pretty girls because I know that you are also a kind person. I know you’ll be nice to any girl you date. And we have talked at length about the importance of being respectful, of NOT doing the kiss and tell, and how different life is for a girl with a reputation than it is for a boy. You have also asked me about who pays when you go on a date, and we have practiced what you should do when you meet parents, from the handshake to the small talk. Because talking to adults is still something that is very hard for you to do.
For the very first time, you had to try out for your spot. You had to combat nerves and you had to open yourself up to the possibility of disappointment. All you wanted to do was survive the first round of cuts, which you did. And you survived the second round, too. The day you made the team was a huge high for the whole family! But this was the year you also learned that tryouts were just the beginning. Making the team didn’t guarantee you playing time. You rode the bench, and in the beginning it was heartbreaking. I honestly wasn’t sure which way this was going to go; would you roll your eyes and say forget this and head back to Upward? Or would you put your head down and work?
To say I’m proud of you just doesn’t do it justice.
You worked hard. You put it all into practice. You got your hopes up every single game, and the first time Coach put you in, it didn’t even matter that it was for just a few seconds at the end, and it didn’t matter that you never got your hands on the ball. It didn’t matter. That first time being put in the game made you happy and it made you hungry for more.
And as the season progressed, so did your playing time. You earned it.
We decided in the car on Friday that we were going to skip the part of teenager-hood where you and I don’t get along, where you roll your eyes at everything I say or where you stop wanting to hang out with me or be seen with me in public. We decided that we were always going to be just like us. Mother and son and friends and confidantes. I hope that’s true. Because I love you and because I like you. I like you so very much.
To my Doodlebug, my Thing One, my baby boy, my love. Happy Birthday.