I cannot believe you are 16. It’s not that you don’t look like it or act like it, it’s just that I can’t believe this much time has passed. You are a teenager. You drive automobiles. You shave your face.
I am amazed by you all the time. I’m not sure other people understand what we’ve been through. It is crazy that now we can talk about what we felt and thought during those “strong-willed” years. I think the two of us have such a bond because together we survived a crucible experience: your early childhood.
You were an absolute terror as a toddler and young child. I used to project out what it might look like when you became a teenager with all the energy and attitude you had as a kindergartner. Fortunately, a mother’s projections are not always the best indicator of anything but her own fears. You are a phoenix- this magnificent ball of fire that burned itself out and re-emerged as this smart, even-tempered young man.
Your sense of humor is obviously my favorite thing. You are in on the joke. You can laugh at yourself. Our texts of nothing but memes and GIFs are as sacred to me as any memento a mother can save of their child. Your giggle and laugh still make me smile. When you were born, your cry sounded like a giggle. Did I ever tell you that? Maybe from the beginning, God intended you to be a person who laughs easy and often.
I love that you love us well. You are never ashamed to hug or say “I love you.” My favorite part of the day is when you get out of the car at school and wish me a great day followed by a “Love you.” And that tiny wave you give me as I start to pull away….that has left a mark forever. When you were little, you climbed out of the car and ran into the building without a single glance backward. The first time you turned around for that little wave was fourth grade. Do you know why I remember that? Because I know exactly what it did to my heart. I still feel it. When I pick you up from school you always ask me how my day was. That is how I know you are growing up. You sincerely want to know what your Mom did all day, as if laundry and grocery shopping were fascinating phenomenon every teenage boy longs to understand.
I think it is amazing that you do not allow anyone to define you. You have pleasantly surprised us with the things you have chosen to do in high school. You do not waste time worrying what anyone else thinks. YOU ARE SO BRAVE, Stephen… in all the ways that matter. I look at you all the time with pride and more than just a little envy that I could be more like you.
I have so many hopes for you. I hope you get to do all the things you dream of doing. I hope your desire to learn never goes away. I hope the passion you have for certain subjects is realized and integrated into the life you choose. I hope you never stop traveling. I hope you always keep that belly laugh. I hope you find love. I hope you have loyal friends and community . I hope you follow after Jesus in a personal and purposeful way.
I hope you always text me funny things.
I hope 16 is your best year yet.
I hope you always know I love you the most.