I can hardly believe that you arrived in my life fourteen years ago. It feels like not too long ago that you were holding my hand in parking lots, sitting on my lap to hear a book, and falling asleep in the car with your thumb firmly tucked in your mouth. So many things have happened in the blink of an eye.
This last year has been something for you and for everyone. From the very beginning of the pandemic, you missed out on a lot. The day you all were sent home from school, you were supposed to do a performance of the variety show that you never got to do. You missed dances, sports, time with friends, and extra-curricular activities. There were no summer camps, no sleepovers, no vacations, no watching fireworks with pals. I know that you missed all of the socializing, and maybe school a teeny bit, but you were mature throughout all of the uncertainty. You very rarely complained, and when you did, it was only to blow off steam. You have always understood that Dad and I have been trying to keep our family as safe as possible, and you haven't held it against us. You have accepted what needs to be done better than many adults I know.
Speaking of Dad and me, I know we drive you absolutely bananas
sometimes most of the time. (I also know that it's mostly Dad, but I'll throw myself under the bus, too, so he doesn't feel so bad.) Despite how annoying we must be, you're pretty good about listening and letting us do our thing. Yes, there are eye rolls and stomping and door slamming from time to time, but even your teenaged behavior isn't terrible. You still make us laugh so much that it's difficult to stay mad at you. I don't know how Dad and I were so lucky to get such funny kids, but we're grateful for it every day.
I have watched you grow an incredible amount in the last year. Physically, you're taller than I am now, and you get a disturbing sense of joy in reminding me how "low" I am. You'll be getting your braces off very soon, and what could have been a painful process has been smooth with you. On the rare occasions that you were in pain, you bore it with strength and the knowledge that it wouldn't last too long. You're working hard at school, and it shows. You're also always trying to get better organized. I know it isn't really your thing, but I appreciate the effort. The growth that has astonished me, though, is your emotional growth. I love how many new things you have tried: cross country, basketball, and even running for and winning president of Builders Club! Once you decide you're gong to do something, it's done. You have learned to stand up for what you feel is right even when it's a difficult or unpopular thing to do. I have seen you do this for your friends and for people you don't even particularly like: you always root for the underdog and for what is morally right. You have realized that having toxic people in your life isn't worth the pain they cause, and good friends are worth their weight in gold. I love that you still tell me every detail of your day; well, maybe not every detail but most of them. Every time you tell us a story about something that happened at school or on a Zoom with your friends, I feel like I know you a little better. For someone your age, you're not judgmental at all. You accept everyone for who and what they are, no matter what. You're kind, compassionate, forgiving, caring, and fierce: I can't think of a better combination.
Everyone says how hard it is to watch your kids grow up. It's certainly bittersweet, but I'm having the best time watching who you are becoming. Keep fighting the good fight, even when you're tired or scared, and know we will always be right behind you. Continue to laugh as much as you can and stay close to your broham. I know you all like each other more than you're willing to admit. He'll forever be in your corner, too, just as I know you'll be in his.
You are everything I never knew I longed for and exactly what I always wanted. I am so damn proud of you, and I hope you never forget it.
Love you the mostest,