Good grief. You turned 12 today. How is that even a possibility?? You are easing us into the impending teenagehood (one last golden year of a “kid”!) with your pre-teen angst and tweener ‘tude.
I’m glad that you are still surprisingly sweet and gentle at times. And that those times far outweigh the bursts of pent up emotion.
We’ve had a good year– a tough year– but a good year where we’ve slogged through the first year of middle school. You navigated this first ripple of friends sometimes acting in not-so friendly ways with determination that you would not be unkind. It hasn’t always been easy. Middle school is full of heartbreak and curses and mean girls (and boys that are… well, I’ll curb my tongue.). You’ve reminded your Dad and I what years away from that viper pit have dulled– middle school is really kind of awful. We grieved for you while you found your footing in all the changes– new teachers, new friends, new bullies, new tasks (lockers! gym clothes! a g.p.a!) and cheered when you came out on the other end with a mostly optimistic outlook and your faith intact.
You’re still growing and learning in your faith– we love to see how important God is and seeking to understand what his will is for you. Your Dad is, by his own admission, “trying to keep up with Jack” in his own relationship with God and church and Biblical literacy. As for me– well, I have loved finally having you as full fledged “Yout” at the church. Sunday nights are so much better for having you in the mix of games and our prayer circle. Your prayer at youth group last week about brought me to my knees when you earnestly thanked God for bringing us all back together again and “for the older ones teaching the younger ones”.
One of your best adventures this year was going on mission trip with the youth group. Dad and I were so proud of you and how hard you worked (and how hard you played). You were the youngest and the smallest– and our favorite MT day was when you were able to complete the screws inside the raised garden bed– because you were small enough to fit inside. God uses all of us– where we are. How we are. It’s good that you are starting to understand that already.
It was a year of small adventures. We welcomed in the New Year at Lake Louise in the tiny district superintendent cabin — a perfect start to 2016 with just the three of us and a stack of movies and fresh falling snow. You skied with us and with the youth group; went sledding with cousin Tyler; went to Chicago and your beloved Field Museum; spent a week tramping around Lake Wedowee with the Georgia Cousins; spent a night at Wesley Woods; a week at the cottage with the Far-Flungs (where you were leader of the Kid Pack– Adrian, Chris, Emily, and baby Grace); and a perfect week at Family Camp.
You read the second and third Harry Potter books– and finally saw those movies. (And, like your mom and cousin Maddie, was pretty ticked that they cut out so much of our favorite parts.) You moved up (twice!) in band– from Intermediate to Varsity in the late fall and from Varsity to Symphonic in the early school year. You marched in your first parades (loving it), played in your first concerts, went to your first District Festival (IIIs…), and on your first Elementary Schools Tour. When Mr. K asked you to jump into jazz band and learn the trombone you did– even though it meant waking up an hour earlier every morning to get to school by 6:30 a.m. And we’re loving that you’ll march at your first football game this Friday playing your song– September!
Sometimes this year you were fragile– unsure of your own worth or potential. Sometimes this year you were giggly. Sometimes you were cocky and rude. Sometimes you fell into our arms asleep. You are so very much a little kid and a big kid and a nearly-teenager all rolled into one. You’re experimenting with copying the 8th graders and their habits of wearing their earbuds slung over a shoulder– even while you are still making elaborate scenes with your army guys, legos, or stuffed toys.
The hardest part of this year? Saying goodbye to your little black dog. Poor Philbin made it to the week before your birthday. When I asked you where we should bury him– perhaps by the hostas he loved so much? You thought about it and answered, “We might not always live in this house forever– but we will always have the cottage. Let’s bury him there.” So we will. With a banana salute in the spring. Your concern for Hildy and your teary-eyed Mom is one of your best traits.
As is the kind of 7th grader (!) you are– the kind that doesn’t weld his new found power but seeks to help out the 6th graders when he can. Not everyone remembers the slats below on the ladder— we’re glad to see that you do.
While I type this you’ve put the finishing touches on an english paper and read through your algebra homework with your Dad. You’re anxious to have time to play on your new Nintendo 3DS and we are anxious to give you time to relax after a long day.
We love you, kiddo. We’re so proud of being your parents. But slow down this year– okay? This is all going by too fast.