John Paul is fourteen. Repeat 5 times. Don’t hyperventilate.
These are the things I whisper to myself these days.
All you mamas of littles, it happens faster than you think. I always love that I get to kick off a new year with a birthday letter to John Paul. Here goes, y’all.
Dear John Paul,
Since when are you an eighth grader? With Will it seemed like it took so long and with you, BAM, we’re here. I must admit, though, I’m loving it.
You’re still working on getting the sarcasm down (don’t worry, it will come), but you really are wicked funny. You have this little head tip, eyebrow raise thing you do without smiling and then we all crack up. You can make anyone in the family laugh, just ask Gianna. She’s your number one fan.
I’ve seen the moody side of you begin to disappear and a mature, witty, kind, empathetic young man emerge. You’re a leader among your peers and well liked. It reminds me so much of your dad. You have this sweet, sensitive heart and I pray God preserves it long after you leave our house. It will serve you well.
Hands down, you’re the most competitive person in the house. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a game of horse on the basketball court, Trivial Pursuit with the family or something in between, you want to be the best. Let that drive you to be the best version of who God wants you to be, but don’t let it hold you back from trying something new, even if you fail at first.
While you have little patience with some things, I have never seen anyone pore over a puzzle with as much intensity as you. That 1,000-piece black and white puzzle we got for Christmas was a killer. But you? You stuck it out even when we all abandoned you.
You tell us you want to be an architect and I can only imagine the buildings you would design – basketball courts on every floor and TVs to display all the Aggie sports. Speaking of A&M, you’ve drunk the kool-aid. You believe in them even when they’re down and the football team sent you to bed in tears this season. You always have hope, though.
At last count I think you were up to 104 card tricks. We keep telling you to advertise those mad skills for birthday parties. You just shrug and say, “Eh, I just love doing them.” I think what brings me the greatest joy is that the first trick you learned was taught to you by your great-grandfather, may He rest in peace. Boy, would he be proud of you now.
I have no idea why the Jets are still your favorite professional team, but we have a green closet to prove it. You always have to march to the beat of your own internal drum. Keep being you, keep staying true to you. That self-assurance and confidence are attributes moms pray for in their children.
Whatever you do, I pray you continue to be the levity to all the hard moments of life. You have this deep and abiding joy, John Paul. My relationship with you hasn’t always been perfect, but I believe you and I have come a long way this last year. I’ve learned to be more forgiving and to embrace who God is making you to be. And you? Well, you’re growing up and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Another year that we get to celebrate all the best that is our very own John Paul the Great.
Happy birthday big man. Being your mom is one of my greatest joys.