letter number nine

by MrsFatass on February 5, 2018

I wrote your first birthday letter on this blog when you turned SIX.

There are stories we repeat all the time: You didn’t like going to sleep, you didn’t like STAYING asleep, you were the happiest baby with the most infectious smile. You had a mischievous streak. You rubbed yourself down from head to toe with Vaseline when you were supposed to be napping and we had to bathe you in Dawn for a week.  When you were four you were already flirting with (adult) women, and when introducing yourself to our gorgeous new neighbor, with hearts in your eyes, you puffed up your chest and told her “I’m SEVEN.” As if.

There are lots of made up words we all use that were your “babytalk”.  I’m writing this post on my pewpewter. If you forget something, you can’t benember it. If something is unpleasant to you, you can’t wike it. They are all part of our family lexicon now. I’ll say benember until I die.

But now, more than ever, these things are in such stark contrast to who you’ve become.

You’re fifteen today. FIFTEEN. And you’re tall – taller than both me and your dad. Your voice is getting deep. I think you may want to think about shaving once in a while. You’re lean, and graceful, and so athletic. I’ve missed watching you play basketball this year. I was probably more excited than you when tryouts came up. And? I was probably more disappointed than you when you didn’t make the team.

You didn’t make the team.

It’s the first basketball season since you were 5 that you haven’t played basketball   on a team. And I didn’t know what that would do to you. We have already put so much on your plate this year with our situations and transitions.  I was counting on you being on that team to alleviate my own guilt about moving you to Florida. I thought that once you made the team you’d have a built-in circle of friends and it would start to feel more like home for you.

When you came home from tryouts saying you didn’t think you made it, I didn’t believe you. Why would I? You’re a good player, you worked with a trainer all summer to get even better, and you ALWAYS make the team.

But your old soul understood things differently than I did. You saw the 100 kids in the gym trying out. You knew how many of them the coach already knew, maybe even having watched them when they were in eighth grade. You knew that going to a school more than twice the size of the one you’d have gone to back home meant more than twice the competition. And you knew a brand new freshman from North Carolina just might not make the JV cut.

I remember once last year your team played an exciting, neck and neck game, and you had the chance to win the game with a buzzerbeater. You got the ball, you looked for the net, you took your shot – and it bounced off the rim. We lost, and you put the weight of that loss squarely on your own shoulders. You walked out of the locker room a little while later with your hood pulled low, and your eyes all red and wet with tears. But you shook hands and accepted the pats on the back and made your way through the crowd with such grace, even though I know all you wanted to do was get the hell out of there.

You understand the world in a way well beyond your 15 years. You’re grounded. You don’t have that self-centeredness that people your age are supposed to have. And, just like when your team lost that game, you handled not making this team with maturity. And grace.

I’m proud of you. I’m proud of how you laughed about getting a little lost on the first day of school. I’m proud of how you get online for math tutoring with your class twice a week. I’m proud of how good your grades are. I’m proud of how you’re talking about college. I’m proud of how you enjoy going down to look at the ocean. I’m proud of how you go to the bus stop to pick up your sister. I’m proud of how excited you were to go to your first pro basketball game, even before you knew your nosebleed seats would be traded in for floor ones.

I’m proud of how you’ve never complained about moving to Florida. I’m proud of how you always understood the reason for it, and never argued, even though you have missed your friends so much. Even though, underneath it all, you probably would have preferred to stay in North Carolina.

I’m proud that you’ve made new friends.

I’m proud of how you’ve stayed positive about all of this.

I’m proud of what you do, yes, but I’m even more proud of who you are.

I love hearing you laugh with your friends when you play on your XBOX in the evening. I love how you always want me to drive you to school so we can talk. I love the way you come into my room and flop down on my bed, and how you’ll end up getting interested in what I’m watching and before we know it a half an hour has gone by.

I love how your favorite teams are Michigan teams and how you have a loyalty for them that runs deep. That loyalty says so much about who you are and who you’re becoming.

I make the joke that nowadays when I fuss at you, I have to look up to do it. But I really don’t ever have to fuss at you. Because you’re a good kid who is growing into a good young man.

I can’t believe this is the NINTH time I’ve written a birthday letter. I wish it would all just slow down just a little. I remember so clearly the day I had you, when they rolled me out of surgery on the way to my room, stopping briefly in the nursery so I could see you. And when I said your name you turned your head and opened your eyes and looked right at me. It is one of the sweetest memories tucked in my heart.

And you have given me so many more since that moment.

Happy Birthday, my Doodlebug. I love you.

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