Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Happy 10th Birthday, Jackson!


Ten years ago, I started worrying about you and I don't think I ever stopped.

Ten years ago tonight, my worry was whether to send you to the hospital nursery so I could get a good night's sleep or whether I should just bite the bullet and plunge into endless nights of sleeplessness. (For the record, I am NOT crazy and decided to hoard every bit of sleep I could; you went to the nursery until a nurse wheeled you back in the wee hours for a feeding.)

But these days, my worries have taken on more shape, weight, and baggage.

I worry whether you are happy, which makes me wonder if my parents ever worried about my happiness. Not that they didn't care, but I think my generation had a few less helicopter parents than yours does. There was more of the "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit" mentality than I see these days. Even though I know this, I still worry whether you are satisfied and will have good, happy memories of childhood when you are an adult.

I worry whether you're eating enough. You're skinny and smaller than your classmates, and I'm always playing the Italian-grandmother-role by trying to ply you with extra calories - but only the nutritional, substantial kind because you get enough junk already. I want you to grow big and strong, and not be the small kid who gets ridiculed. (Tonight, you saw Army helicopters fly by and we talked about you becoming a pilot one day. Maybe being compact would be an advantage?)

I worry about you being a good friend. When you have a friend over to play, I hear you poke at each other and whine during Nerf gun fights. Will your friend get annoyed at this and lose patience - and loyalty - in your friendship?

I worry about your character. I've told you so many times that I'm not as concerned about the grades on your report card as I am concerned about the citizenship, respectfulness, and cooperation marks you get. I already know you're smart; I want you to be known for your heart as much as - if not more so - than your brain. Are Daddy and I instilling good character?

I worry about so much more: are you brushing your teeth well? (Boo for cavities.) Are you spending too much time on a screen? (And what exactly is this Roblox thing anyway?) Are you reading too many graphic novels and shrinking your intelligence when you could be diving into a classic? Do you get away with too much because you're the baby of the family? Should we crack the whip more?

Aren't parents supposed to worry more about the first child? I thought the first one was supposed to be the "guinea pig" with the parenting mistakes, and parents are supposed to have it figured out by the time any siblings roll around. I don't think that's the case with you: Katie seems to roll right along, while I worry more about how I could be messing you up.

It's so easy for me to get caught up in hand-wringing and "what if." Yes, it's true there is concern even though there's not so much cause for concern. I own it: the concern is my own making and part of the problem is my desire to be a "good" parent (whatever that means).

The truth is what you and I discussed with your pediatrician today at your 10-year checkup: you are a good kid.

You excel academically.

You have a normal social life.

You eat pretty well.

You are very active.

You encounter emotional difficulties sometimes, like most 9- and 10-year-old boys do.

You love Minecraft, graphic novels, Nerf gun battles, library visits, cuddling, hiding (then jumping out to scare people), movies, screen time, Nutella, Katie, Pokemon, and the New York Yankees.

You are always on the move but you still let me hold you like a baby every now and then.

You can write and spell unlike any 4th grader I know.

You love intensely and to a fault, and friends are your fuel.

Your faith is matter-of-fact and you show me what it looks like to be secure in God's love: you simply don't question it.

You are passionate, loving, funny, smart, and - best of all - MINE. Life with you isn't *quite* worry free, but it is happy.

I'm glad you're my son and that I've been gifted ten years of life with you.

I love you!


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