Saturday, June 20, 2015

Seven!

Dear Jacob,

I can't believe you're SEVEN!  Back when you were a baby, I used to think about what life would be like when you were older.  I'd think about what it would be like when you started walking and talking, or how things would be when you hit Kindergarten.  We've blown past all of those milestones, and now you've hit the age that I had in my mind where you'd probably be a cool kid we'd just think was fun to hang out with.  I figured that by this age we'd be past a lot of the dependent phases (meaning, we wouldn't have to do so many things FOR you) and we'd be at a point where we'd enjoy doing things WITH you.  We'd be in the sweet spot of parenting--where you'd be more self-sufficient and fun to hang out with, but still too young for the drama and eye rolls that come with the preteen years. 

Turns out that life had some other plans, I guess, because things are a tiny bit more complicated than that!  Rest assured--we think you're a pretty amazing kid, and I'll get into that more in a bit.  But let's get some of the obvious tough stuff out of the way first.  You are a tough kid to manage sometimes.  You are very particular, very stubborn, and very independent, but still surprisingly needy in some ways.  I never really thought we'd still have to tell you to eat with a fork or sit on your butt while eating.  I never thought I'd still be reminding you that you have to brush your teeth every morning, or that I'd be getting a king-sized groan back every single time.  I just thought certain things would be easier by now. 

It's hard when you take everything personally and don't understand that discipline is not an attack on you, but rather an attempt to teach you how to become a better person.  We may not have a lot of practice at parenting a kid your age, but we've lived a lot more life and have an idea of what it takes to become functional adults...so maybe you should just trust us and listen!  Take advantage of our wisdom and learn what lessons you can the easy way.  We've told you repeatedly that kids without limits turn into very bad adults, and we desperately want to help you avoid that.  When we tell you to get ready for school, or to do your homework, or to put down the electronics, or to go to bed and stay there, there are reasons for it.  Those are normal things expected of normal people, and you really should just get used to them.  I know it's hard to have things taken away or to feel like you can't do anything, but you have to trust us that these things will teach you about what's valuable in life. 

Here's the thing....we wouldn't push so hard if we didn't care so much.  We can see that there's a brilliant, fascinating kid in there, and we're just trying to help you reach that potential.  I've said it here before that sometimes you just need to get out of your own way.  You worry about so many of the little things that don't matter that much in life, and I hate to see it suck the fun out of it for you.  Speaking from experience, I know that I've done a lot of the same things in my life, and in the end I know better, that some things just aren't worth worrying about if they're going to ruin your fun!

I will say that we've had a much better year than last year.  Six treated us all way better than five, for many reasons.  While listening and respect issues have probably gotten worse (we're working on it), the meltdowns have decreased and our daily life is a little more manageable than it used to be.  We're tired of the yelling and the backtalk and the constant repeating of instructions, but certain things are better.  We had a much easier year of school and most tasks are not the daily struggle they used to be.  You've grown up so much this year that I can barely believe me eyes every time I look at you!  You've lost four teeth, and that alone made you look so much older!  You're getting so tall, and before we know it, your feet will be as big as mine.  You're just starting to look like a big kid, and I can barely believe you were once a tiny baby that fit in my arms.  You're turning into a true athlete and I've felt such pride watching you score a couple goals in lacrosse this year and start to become a better fielder in baseball.  You have so many talents--smart in school, fascinating artwork, awesome imagination when playing--and watching you come into your own is so amazing.

You've also started to come around a bit as a big brother this year.  Of course, the two of you together can be a massive handful, but at least you're starting to be nicer to Carter and more tolerant of him than you used to be.  Once in a while I hear you trying to teach him something or trying to include him in an activity, and it makes me so happy!  I could do without the bickering or baiting him into trouble, but I have hope that someday you might be a great sports teacher or even a good buddy for him. 

Even though we go through a lot of tough times right now, the good thing about it is that it makes the good times even more special.  I love seeing pure happiness on your face.  It may not always be easy to get there, but it's so great when we do.  You had a really great birthday today, and it makes me so happy to know you're going to bed a happy kid. 

I guess the one thing I can tell you at this point is that one thing has remained constant for every moment of the last seven years--Mommy and Daddy love you more than we can ever describe.  We may not be perfect parents, but that hasn't stopped us from trying every single day to get there.  We know you're worth the effort.  Everything we do is an attempt at giving you a better life, whether or not you realize it now.  Hopefully one day you will, since it took me becoming a parent to realize where my parents were coming from all those years.  This year I've had the realization that although I've always wished you would become an easier kid to parent, I really need to keep praying that I can become the best parent for you.  You make me want to be a better mom, and I can't imagine my life without you.  I'm hoping that seven is our lucky number, and this will be a great year for all of us.  We love you so much and look forward to seeing where this year takes us.  Happy Birthday, buddy.

Love,
Mommy

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