Oh, my boy! What a difference a year makes. The person who is writing this letter today is in a wholly different mindset than the mother who wrote this letter last year. And, of course, so is the recipient!
In the last few months, your demeanor has undergone a transformation. Somehow, in some way, the things Daddy and I have been drilling in to your head for six years seem to be penetrating somewhat. It’s like a light was switched on, and you are grasping cause and effect in a much deeper sense. You have learned that giving an attitude to your parents results in getting an attitude back. You’ve experimented with that, and it seems you have found (finally!) that everyone is much more agreeable when we start with pleasant instead of grumps. Hallelujah! It finally makes sense for you!
Grasping this one life basic has paid big dividends for our entire family. Since the calendar turned to 2014, I’ve noticed an increased willingness on your part to help without being asked, to go out of your way when you see someone else struggling or having a bad moment, and to take responsibility for yourself. For example, Toy Jail finally makes sense to you. (Clean it up before bed, or you have to do a job the next day to get whatever item was “arrested” out of jail.)
As a mother, I’ve prayed countless times that I would see changes like this in you. And although I know we haven’t “arrived” yet (When does a parent ever “arrive,” anyway?), I can see glimmers of the man you will one day become. Small changes have brought big hope!
While some change has been encouraging and refreshing, other things have stayed the same – and I’m grateful for that, too. You are an incredibly smart kid. (Of course, in my humble opinion!) I mean, look at your classwork I saw at school today!
And you are still the same sweet-hearted, emotionally open little boy you’ve always been. As a parent, I’ve learned to figure out the currency that matters most to each of my kids and to use that currency as a motivator. While physical currency (money) is a decent motivator for you, the biggest motivator is people. You LOVE people, and being alone is one of the worst punishments you can imagine.
Just last week, we had friends over for dinner – adult friends! To you, it didn’t matter that they weren’t coming to “play” with you. You were thrilled to have people over at all, and you woke up that morning chattering happily about our friends who were coming to dinner. As their arrival time got closer that evening, you set about getting the house ready for them. You asked me if you could put out trays for them to rest their snacks on. You took all the pillows off the couch and made a soft spot on the floor for our friends to sit. (Never mind that they are past the age of floor-sitting, and never mind that I had spent the previous 30 minutes cleaning up the living room and placing those same pillows in certain spots on the couch!) And then you took up a sentinel post by the front window, watching for their arrival. Every two minutes, you came to find me and tell me they had not arrived yet. But the instant they pulled into our driveway, you became a one-man welcome wagon and rushed out to usher our friends into the house. Having people in your life makes you feel like king of the castle, and your soul lights up with glowing joy.
You care about people, sweet boy. You love well. You write letters and draw pictures for people you love. Those pictures are usually dragons or crazy winged bats, but you love to give these pictures away. You’ve also started caring for people by praying for them. Last week, I made you a set of rocks we are calling Prayer Pebbles. I picked seven pebbles for you on our walk, and wrote six names on them for you. Five of the six names are people you love, and the sixth is the name of someone you struggle to love almost every day. It’s a boy on your bus, who is a borderline bully to everyone around him. You and I talked about him and you asked me to write his name on a rock for you. Yesterday you pulled his rock out of the Prayer Pebble container and bowed your head and prayed for the boy you wish would be your friend. My heart melted! [For the record, the seventh rock was left blank so you can pray for whatever person you choose on the day you pull that rock from the container.]
This epitomizes you at this very moment in time, Jackson. You are so excited to start baseball (your first team!) next week. You get to hang with your buddy this weekend. And you look forward to your future with zealous anticipation, unafraid and jumping in with abandon. I feel the same about your future, too: the best is yet to be, Jackson! I am so glad I get to be your mommy and sit beside you for this crazy ride.
I love you, deeply and dearly!