Today you are eleven years old. Today I am eleven years a mother. Today we are eleven years a family. I don't know if I've ever thanked you for it, but I should because being a mother is the thing that I love most. It's the best thing I've ever gotten to do.
A rough hewn block of stone
But enough about me, this is supposed to be about you. About the person that you continue to become. The famous sculptor, Michelangelo (of David statue fame) said "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it." I think about this a lot when I think of who you are becoming, because every part of who you will be is already inside of you. With each pass of the sculptor's tools what I already know about you becomes just a bit more defined.
Empathy and kindness
Ever since you have been little you have questioned me "What's my talent?" You want to know the physical things like are you an academic or an athlete or an artist. Those my son, are just skills. It is the intangible that makes you so remarkable, so talented. And nearly everyday of your life I have had the privilege of seeing these true talents shine through. Your empathy, your kindness; these talents which are inextricable with your very being are the ones that I know will ensure your success and happiness in life. It is not the 4.0 student, the state championship athlete, nor the Broadway child star that ensures success, but the kid who knows how to smile and how to bring a smile to his friends' faces even when they are faced with sadnesses both large and small.
And indeed there has been large sadness for your friends and their families this year. I only wish that I didn't have to know that you can be a comfort to your friends. It is tragic to suffer the loss of a parent at any age, but none of you should know this so young.
Passion and perseverance
It is hard to continue to write after referencing such sadness as almost anything I write after would be trivial, but I do not want to end this celebration of your turning eleven like this. So I continue to write. I will write about your passion and your perseverance and how I have watched you grow as an academic and an athlete and an artist in the past year (See how I did that, I said that those skills didn't really matter, but it kind of makes me happy to see you succeed in these too!). I'll go into your successes in each, but don't minimize the importance of those two words passion and perseverance. Those are not learned, kiddo, and you are VERY lucky to have them at your disposal, they will also contribute to your success in life.
Put these on your curriculum vitae
The three As: academics, athletics and artistry. They make for a very well rounded young man.
From an academic standpoint, in the past year I have watched you tackle the things that are hardest for you, like getting the amazing stories and thoughts that are in your head down onto paper. Like turn the 'handwriting of a murderer' into legible penmanship. Like figuring out strategies for new concepts in math or new spelling patterns that have landed you just this past week in the top spelling group for the very first time. Bravo! And all while keeping your class clown sense of humor in tact.
From an athletic standpoint, your basketball skills have grown tremendously. You were part of a winning, undefeated 12U travel basketball team (hopefully, that wont read like gibberish when you are looking back at this years from now). You tried out for the team, you made the team, you contributed to the success of the team. And while I am quite sure that you will neither play NBA or NCAA basketball, you will forever have a comfort on the court and even when you are as old as your dad I know that you will be playing pickup hoop with your other old dad friends.
From an artist standpoint, you have the voice of an angel kiddo. If you feel confident in your abilities here, you should. I love getting to watch you sing and develop your stage presence at the School of Rock. I can't wait to hear you in your latest endeavor being a part of a Foo Fighters cover band. I love hearing you stretch your skills to listen for harmonies and sing them in tune, effectively. This is your happy place, your safe place. Continue to nurture it.
I don't know where to fit this last paragraph because I've been writing all about serious stuff, but I want you to remember one of our conversations that we had recently in which you said that when you get a girlfriend you would be cool if she looked like me and could do what I do, but maybe it would be better if she had a different personality. Thanks for saying that you think I'm pretty and smart even if I do drive you crazy sometimes.
So that's it goofball. Let's see what this officially a pre-teen year to come brings.
I love you with all my heart,