Today you are 9 years old, and every time I write a birthday post for you, I have no idea where the time has gone. It seems like not long ago at all when I held you for the first time and watched you sleep. I remember wondering what on earth I was going to do with a boy, and little did I know that you would inspire within me such a fierce and enduring love.
This has been a year of change for you, I think. You are slowly but surely growing up. You are still hesitant and cautious when it comes to new things, but you're more willing to try them now than you were a year ago. Last year, you said, in your old man wisdom, that you thought Cub Scouts was too dangerous because there were arrows and bb guns involved. I knew you wanted to do it, but there was something deep inside that was holding you back. This year, you casually mentioned that you were ready to try Scouts, like you had never had any qualms about it in the past. I don't know what changed in your mind, but I'm excited for you to have a new experience. You are jumping in the deep end of Uncle Matt's pool with abandon and riding rollercoasters while you scream with joy.
You have become somewhat more confident in yourself and your abilities. You still get easily frustrated when you can't do something right away, but you are allowing yourself some grace time to learn and make mistakes. If you hurt someone's feelings, you are more forthcoming with an apology than you have been in the past, and I'm so proud that you are really learning to think about other people's feelings. Dare I say that you are learning to relax a little, too? You are always going to be someone who thinks about things deeply and often for a long time before wanting to talk about them, but I feel as though you are taking more in stride these days.
When it was time to go back to school, no one could believe how tall you had grown over the summer. It won't be too long before you surpass Lottie, and then soon after, me. I actually wore your slippers around the house one time for the whole day before I realized that they were yours, so your feet might overtake mine sooner than I think. The summer brought you a sprinkling of freckles on your nose that you hate for some unknown reason but that I find swoon-worthy. Your hair is darker and longer, so it makes you look like a teenager! Thank goodness your beautiful blue eyes and your dark, long lashes haven't changed because they are one of the things that melt my heart.
Although you have grown in so many ways, you are still the sweet boy I have always known. You are just as happy with a good book as you are a video game. You love to spend time with family, and you're up for any adventure than I plan. Something as little as a new pair of pajamas can make you beam from ear to ear. I hope that you continue to find joy in the small things in life. Your kindness and love to the animals in our lives is boundless. You love to lie on the ground with Sally and gaze deep into her eyes, and you are gentle and loving with Judy. I know that when we ever get a dog of our own, you will help me take such good care of it.
I'm probably easier on you than I should be because you're my baby, my last child. You will be the last one to leave the nest, if you ever do, and you're far more sensitive in most respects than anyone else in the house. Maybe I should be more firm, maybe I should make you do more that you don't want to do, but my instinct tells me that it wouldn't be good for you. What I have learned about you in the last nine years is that you'll get around to doing everything in your own way and in your own time. You won't be pushed, you won't be cajoled, and you won't change your mind unless you feel like you are ready. That can make parenting you difficult from time to time, but as an adult, I think those qualities will all serve you well.
I can't begin to tell you how proud I am of you. You are your own person, and with each day that goes by, I appreciate that more. You bring a unique joy to our lives that I couldn't live without.
I love you the most,