My sweet boy,
This letter has been keeping me up at night, begging me to write to you. I wake up in the dark of the night, and all I can think about are all of the things I want to say to you as I watch you grow into the wonderful, strong young man that you are. I am so proud of you. I have always been insanely proud of you – you are so good inside. You are filled with so many wonderful traits that sometimes all I can do is fall to my knees and thank God for giving me such an exquisite gift as he did, the day he gave me you.
Middle school is a weird time for kids. You want so much to be cool and accepted, and fit in with the right kids. To look right, act right, and not do anything embarrassing. But inside, all of these things are coming up; exciting, nerve-wracking, drama-filled things. Stressful things. It’s exciting and fun and scary and depressing and quite honestly, a giant muddle of mixed-up craziness. You are half child and half adult, and sometimes that makes you feel one way and sometimes it makes you feel another. Sometimes, it’s both. That’s ok. Pick what feels right for that situation. Soon enough, it will become easier and you will leave the little stuff behind. But don’t let worrying about it weigh you down. Sometimes you won’t know what to do. Sometimes, you’ll just feel silly. Other times, sad. Sometimes you will feel giddy and emotional and sometimes, you will just feel stressed.
I want you to know, that 100%, forever and ever and ever, my darling boy, your stress is my stress. I have your back. Always. I might freak out and lecture you (I’m working on getting better at this) but at the end of the day, no matter what, I am on your team. The things that hurt you, hurt me. The things that worry you, worry me. You can come to me, day or night, and know that I am always willing to listen. Tell me that it’s important, and I will put down the computer, or send home my friends, or cancel my date night with dad, or whatever I need to do and we will sort through it. Your problems are my problems, and together, sweetheart, we will work out anything.
As a little boy, my darling, you were always the sweetest child. I have never met a child who had so much compassion and understanding of other human beings as you did. You were polite, you were kind, you were loving, you were gentle, and you always, always, put other people ahead of yourself.
That is a beautiful trait. One you should be proud of. But don’t let it allow people to walk all over you either. Save the people that you choose to give that kindness to, to be ones who are worth it. You are going to meet a lot of people on your journeys to manhood. A lot of them will not be worth your energy. So if someone hurts you or belittles you, or doesn’t want to hang out with you, that’s ok. They aren’t for you. You will find friends and people that are worth your love and your energy. Go ahead and enjoy those that are fun to be around, when you are around them, and let them go when they go.
There is a poem out there about friends being there for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I don’t think there is necessarily a way to know exactly which way they are there for you, except to say that when you look back, it will be obvious. I’ve had four friends, so far, that are there for a lifetime: your dad, Aunt W, Super Nikki, and my friend, L, who you haven’t met. I have had a lot that were there for a season… I had a best friend in grades 4 and 5, another for grades 6-10 and one in between, in grades 7 and 8. Those short friendships were my “seasons”. My “lifetimes” are easy: L was there my whole life, Aunt W from senior year on, and Darling Nikki since we moved here. I am blessed, sweet boy. But think of the hundreds of people I have known, who have come and gone, in all of those years. I’ve had a LOT of friends who just happened to be exactly what I needed at that time in my life, but when that situation was done, we all moved on. These are the “reasons” friendships. You are going to find this to be true as well. So if you find someone that you feel deep inside is worthy of your friendship, offer it to them wholeheartedly. But if, for whatever reason, they don’t return that friendship in kind, don’t worry… just move on. Remember, a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
Girls. Oh, how I love and hate this topic. As your mama, here’s what I want for you. I want you to find a girl that thinks you are the handsomest, funniest, strongest, best guy that there ever was. You will find her, someday. But not in middle school. And likely, not in high school. Your dad and I were an extreme exception to the rule, believe me. But until that day comes along, you are going to meet a ton of girls that you will fall for, and no matter how sweet, beautiful, kind, funny or loyal they are, will someday break your heart. I am dreading that day, but it will happen. You will break a few hearts, too. You will leave some poor, sweet girl sobbing because she felt that she loved you, and knowing you like I do, sweetheart, this will be very hard on you. But it’s just part of growing up.
Know this; these relationships are real. That pounding in your heart, those sweaty hands and nervousness when you talk to her, that is all real. And that crushing, blinding, heartbreak you will feel when those relationships end is real. But as painful as it is, it will be over just as quickly and you will meet someone new. You won’t believe me when you’re going through it, but it is true. That will be true for the girls whose hearts you break too. And even more importantly, all of those feelings you had for that girl who broke your heart will be nothing compared to when you grow up and find the one you are really meant to be with. But… that is a topic for another letter when you are older.
My last topic that I really want to talk with you about… you are going to find yourself in situations where there are drugs and beer. I am not even going to try to pretend that this isn’t true. Please, please, please believe me when I say that you should not ever use drugs. I can’t tell you how many people I have known – wonderful, kind, handsome, funny people who came from good families – who used drugs and completely destroyed their lives. Drugs mess people up. What starts as a fun party thing quickly turns into something that is out of their hands… the risks are just enormous, baby doll. Young bodies, for starters, are not equipped to handle the poison that is going into their bodies. I knew a kid who was huffing paint fumes, and died. He was a nice kid. His name was Adam. I’ve known kids who smoked pot and drove, and killed a friend. I’ve known countless kids who wound up in hospitals and I’ve known kids who’ve killed themselves because they got so depressed following drug use. But mostly what I’ve seen, is people who just plain ruined their lives. They never ended up going to college, they didn’t get good jobs, they had babies way too young that they couldn’t parent or afford, their skin and their teeth are ruined, and they feel hopeless… because they can’t get away from the drugs. Think really, really hard about the choice you make if someone ever offers you drugs. Even the “light” ones. At the end of the day, you know what’s right and what’s wrong.
Alcohol… I know that there will be parties. They had better be a damn long time from now! But let’s get this out in the open now. If you ever have a situation where you or a friend needs a ride because someone did have a beer, please call me. We will come up with some sort of agreement, you and I, where if you trust me enough to call me and let me pick you guys up, you won’t be in trouble. I would so much rather have you safe and have had a beer and me be a little disappointed in your choice to drink, than have you hurt or dead because you didn’t trust me. But that’s all it would be – a little disappointed, because I was a teenager once, too, sweetheart.
And here’s the biggest thing, my sweet baby boy, I trust you. I trust that you have a good head on your shoulders, and at the end of the day that you will make the right decisions. And if you don’t, if you mess up, that’s ok, too. That’s how you learn. And it’s my job to help you pick up those pieces that are the fallout of the wrong choice and maybe turn them another way to help you see how to fix it. Mistakes are a part of life. I still make mistakes, and I’m still trying to learn how to do it all right, the first time.
These years are going to be so much fun for you. Live and love every single second of them. Laugh when you want to, cry when things hurt but above all, enjoy RIGHT NOW. Don’t worry about next year, or five years from now, or when you are an adult. (Well, except for good grades. Do that. Swim hard. Get a scholarship. 🙂 ) You will be grown up before you know it. Before I know it! And I want you to remember every single second of these years. They are so much fun.
I love you, my boy. There is nothing that you could ever, ever, ever do that would ever change that. My love for you isn’t something that you will ever have to work for, earn, or deserve. It just is. Always has been. And always, always will be.