It 6:47 a.m. on New Year's Day... the dawning of a new day and a squeaky clean new year. Today is a clean slate, poised and ready to record all the good things we hope for--and the people we hope to be--in the coming year. Today, most people feel hopeful and optimistic and ready to make changes for the better. As a Neat and Tidy Gal, I love clean slates... so, the first day of the year is pretty great.
But it pales in comparison to the second day of the year.
The second day of the year is the day you were born... so every year, on January 2, I gather all the hope and optimism I feel the day before and I zero in on YOU... like a giant Laser Beam of Promise and Aspiration. (Remember in Independence Day, when the mother ship hovering over the earth shoots out that huge tractor beam and sucks up the crazy crop-duster guy in the fighter jet? A laser beam like that.)
But this year is a little different... this year, along with the usual joy and gratitude I feel on the day you came into the world, I feel a sense of sadness and loss as well.
Tomorrow, you're turning 13 and entering the Land of Teenager... a bizarre country complete with its own language, customs, and a few weird smells.
For a couple of years you've been a resident of Pre-Teen, an equally wackadoo land that in many ways prepares you for your next stop... so I think you'll be fine.
But I think you'll be fine for a lot of other, bigger reasons.
You're as sensitive as you are smart, which means you can use both your head AND your heart to make good decisions... I hope, I pray, that you'll do just that.
You're becoming more assertive... you're not afraid to stand up to someone (including me) and set the record straight, either for yourself or on behalf of someone else. And while that assertiveness may get you in a bit of trouble with your mom from time to time, she wouldn't have it any other way.
You're more emotional, courtesy of that steady stream of hormone cocktails served up by Puberty. You FEEL things more than you did when you were younger, and those feelings affect you more deeply... which makes you more invested in what happens to you, and around you. As a kid whose always been on a pretty even keel emotionally--the kid whose reaction to his first trip to Disneyland was the same reaction he had to having his tonsils removed--I think the heightened emotional state has been a good thing for you... so far. Managing those feelings can be easier said than done in the Land of Teenager... all we can do now is hope for the best.
From day one, your approach to new experiences has always been one of caution... not because you're afraid, but because you're a quiet deliberator. Whether it's going to a new school or getting on a roller coaster, you've never been one to jump into anything with wild abandon, both feet first, arms flailing, eyes closed... You've always been the kid who hangs out on the side for a while, watching and observing, deciding if getting in is the right thing for you... and if it is, you ease in, get used to it... and then the fun begins. But there's been a few times in your life when you've watched, and you've decided it's not the right thing for you... so you pass, and move on to something else.
Of all the inherent qualities you possess, this one will serve you best in this phase of your life... and as your mom, I can't express how grateful I am that you possess it.
Last but not least, the true indicator of your impending teenagerness: You're becoming more independent and social every day, which makes me so happy... and SO incredibly sad.
I don't know if you've noticed this or not, but you're the only kid in the house. (And no, The Dingo does not count as a kid.) You're the one and only child I've ever had to focus my time and attention and love and passion and hopes and dreams on, and when my one and only child is confident and self-assured enough to do his own thing and, in turn, not need me as much... well, it's wonderful and painful at the same time.
Just when you're starting to get really interesting, you pretty much want nothing to do with me... which is ironic, and completely understandable. I was 13 once, too... so I know what it's like to want to spend all your time with your friends. When I was your age and I had a choice between hanging out with Grandma and ANYTHING ELSE... yeah, anything else sounded pretty good. Believe me, I get it.
But, as Hannah Montana's dad once said, my heart is still all achy and breaky.
The trade-off is SO worth it, though... because while I'm busy trying to make peace with my new role in your life, you're busy becoming an amazing young man right before my eyes. I couldn't be more proud... and I couldn't love anyone more fiercely, or completely, or unconditionally than I love you.
Happy Birthday, Pookie.