How are you nine? Nine is, so grown. I remember nine. Nine is big kid problems and more complex schoolwork. Nine is an official pitcher on your baseball team. Nine is…not little.
I am struggling with it. You are not. I am constantly amazed at your growth. You are aware of your anxiety and your struggles, but you take them in such stride. I worry constantly about you in social situations but it is needless. You take off at the pool for the deep end making friends, playing Sharks and Minnows for hours. When there is a joint activity you THRIVE. I truly believe you are the bravest kid, courage is being scared and doing it anyway and sometimes that is an all day activity for you. But at the pool, on the baseball field? No fear. All skill and fun. There is nothing greater than that.
You continue to be a kind hearted kid. It’s one of the things I treasure most about you. You take kindness seriously. This last year you dealt with a bully, and he got to you quite a bit in your heart. It was hard, and one day after a particularly bad encounter you sat in the backseat of the van and we talked about it and you said “He must really be having a hard time to be so mean”. I agreed. Surely he was. He was in pain, you thought. I nodded, both heartbroken that my sweet boy was having a hard time and lifted that even at this age you understood that others can act out due to their own pain. It’s not right and it’s not fair but it is human, and you got that. You take our motto “You are not going to like everyone, everyone is not always going to like you. But we must always be kind.” seriously. I appreciate that about you and work to protect it.
This year you started to thrive academically, we were able to figure out some of how your magnificent brain works, and your amazing school got you set up with people to help you achieve all you can. You are a math whiz. You seem surprised at your own smarts sometimes. I always joke that you are a Super Secret Amazing Reader and your test scores showed that this year. You have a speech disfluency, due to anxiety, and now you are getting help with that, I knew that this added to your not wanting to read aloud in class or in front of others. But you own it now and it is amazing. At the Author’s Tea this year you proudly read your work and when you got stuck you simply looked up and said “sometimes I stutter.” No big deal, sometimes you stutter. Sometimes you don’t. Joe Biden stuttered too. Didn’t hold him back, won’t hold you back. No sir.
Growing up is hard and sometimes you get angry, I know it’s hard sometimes to control your temper and we fight about this, but we are a team and we have your back.
Your art is just…incredible. I love to see how you create and draw. How you see things. You and your brother and sister can draw all day and none of you have ever had any use for coloring books or the like. Plain paper, thank you.
You continue to be obsessed with Five Nights at Freddy’s. I hate it, you love it. You love it because, well, it’s a THING, and also because it is scary but doesn’t scare you. Anything that empowers you, I am for. And while I do not care for it I do care for the creativity it has inspired in you. You create cardboard puppets with articulated jaws and draw endless variations on the characters working on each one’s facial expressions and perspectives. I am constantly amazed with the art you put out. I hope you never stop creating.
You continue to love music but are much more interested in sports right now. The Beatles have taken a backseat to basketball. Baseball is still your first love and you want to play football but mama won’t let you. Sorry. I gotta protect that beautiful noggin and that glorious brain! We compromised on flag football. So we are both happy.
You are still my homebody, you would stay home all the time if I let you. You are THE GREATEST big brother ever, your patience with Piper knows no bounds and while you and Huck are getting to a place where you fight sometimes, you love him so much. You sometimes still crawl into my lap for a snuggle and I stop everything for our cuddles and talks. It’s hard to believe we are halfway to 18 and college. It’s been a blink of an eye and honestly, even the hard moments, have been full of joy.
You are the very heart of our family. I cannot wait to see what this year brings as you continue to spread your wings. You KNOW yourself, and sometimes, okay often, I just need to back off and trust you.
I love you so much Max. Happy Birthday.