The age of 8 was not an easy one for you, son.
It’s been a tumultous year at best. I wonder what word you would use to describe it all.
You were in the midst of enjoying a fun summer vacation and readying yourself to be a third grader when we dropped a bombshell on you.
We are moving. In ten days.
What enormous weight we asked your young and slender shoulders to bear. You started a new life, away from all that you had ever known. You handled it with maturity and grace far beyond your years, rarely complaining; always putting your best foot forward. Always setting an example.
We asked you to put aside your frustrations with Tae Kwon Do and achieve your black belt.
What enormous weight we asked your young and slender shoulders to bear. You had to switch studios 3 times, attend endless weekly practices 52 weeks of the year, overcome your fears. You were brave, and persistent, and never gave up.
We asked you to be an excellent student.
What enormous weight we asked your young and slender shoulders to bear. You switched schools. Adapted to a new routine, new social dynamics, new expectations. You achieved incredible grades and demonstrated more self-motivation and responsibility than we ever could have expected.
There have been times that you have stumbled under the weight of it all – times where you exposed your heart to us and showed us that, despite your smiling face, all was not perfect inside. You hurt. You were scared. You were tired. You were lonely. And now that some of your raw edges have been exposed, I think about their permanent impact. Will they make you a stronger person, or will you crumble a little more, day by day?
I don’t want this past year to have been a bad turning point for you, Boy Wonder – the point that broke your incredible spirit, or stole the joy that used to bubble up from inside you and light up your dimpled face.
This past year, more than any other, I’ve wanted to scoop you up and make promises to you that I can’t keep. I’ve wanted to be your shield, protecting you from big decisions or anything else that can pierce and hurt who you are. But I can only control so much. The rest is up to you and to circumstance.
If I could buy a year’s worth of reassurance in a giant box, that would be my gift to you on today, your ninth birthday. I would reassure you that moving again will be okay, that you’ll make friends and be happy and love our new home and never be able to imagine living anywhere else.
I can only reassure you that you are loved and treasured. I’m so grateful for your bravery and so inspired by your pure goodheartedness. I will be here for you, helping you navigate each bump in this road as best I can.
I don’t know what we called Eight, but I will do everything I can to make sure that Nine is your Year of Awesome.
Happy birthday, Boy Wonder.