I cannot believe that you are 13! Where did the time go? It seems just minutes ago that you were born, blue as a Smurf and enormous. I still don't know where I put you--all 9 pounds and 22 1/4 inches of you! But looking at you now, I can begin to see where your size came from. You are still on the lean side, just like when you were younger, but now you are taller than me--by several inches.It's very hard on this mama's heart to look up to you instead of looking down. Your sudden growth and your deepening voice and your new-found muscles have been like a splash of cold water to my face; I can see the child in you still, but I am shocked to see the young man you are becoming. And because you seem not to heed my pleas to stay young and small, there are some things I want you to know.
1. You've already had your first brush with having a girlfriend--such as you can as a 6th grader. But the time is coming where you will find someone who captures your heart in a big way. You will like her more than anyone since me. (Stop laughing.) She will want you to spend lots of time with her. She will want your attention exclusively. And that's okay--to a point. You are young and you'll have lots of time to devote solely to one girl (woman). Don't let a young lady try to make you too serious before you are ready.
2. One day someone will capture your heart. And then, unfortunately, she will break your heart.
And then your older sister, your Giddy, and I will have to hunt her down and destroy her. Try to remember that everyone gets a broken heart at some point. Don't let that keep you down. Go ahead and feel bad for awhile and then move on--life is too short to let some one's poor decision (and it will be a poor decision on her part, because you are AWESOME) dictate how you feel and how you live.
3. If you lie down with a girl, you have to get married. Okay, maybe that's a little extreme, but really, don't tempt yourself--or her. Keep your relationships simple and fun.
4. Use your strong will in your favor. We've often talked about your strong will. I don't want to call it stubbornness because that's not necessarily a favorable trait. But you have a determination to make yourself heard and make people see your side--both very good things--and you are not easily swayed to change your mind. This is a great thing when people try to get you to do things that you don't want to do or that aren't good for you. It's not so good when you are clearly in the wrong. Don't give up yourself and your opinions and convictions, but don't be afraid to admit when you maybe, just maybe, might possibly be a little bit, um, wrong.
5. Take someone who knows about clothes with you when you shop. (Your sister would be an awesome candidate for this position.) I know that you are only just now starting to care about what you wear and that you don't have real solid opinions about what looks good or what you like. But the time is probably coming where you will want/need to wear something other than sweats/shorts/jeans/t-shirts and having someone with you who knows about clothes will help you feel more confident about what you like.
6. Your dad and I are always, always, always on your side. No matter what happens, no matter what you've done or what situation you might find yourself in, we are in your corner. That doesn't mean we will always agree with your choice or that we'll be happy about things. What it does mean is that you are much more important than any choice or any situation and we want you to know that. We are your champions. We are your biggest fans.
7. Cooking is a great skill to have. Not only will you eventually be able to feed yourself more than microwave mac'n'cheese, but chicks dig a guy who knows his way around the kitchen. (They also dig a guy who knows how to do laundry, but that's a whole 'nother post.)
8. Your siblings are the people that you will have the longest relationship with while you are here on this Earth. Always treat them well. Always keep in touch. Your dad and I will be gone someday and the relationships that you have with your brother and sisters will be important to maintain. Start cultivating those relationships now.
9. You are crazy smart in so many ways. Don't limit your choices when it comes to what career you want when you get older. Keep that door open. Follow your passion and you will be happier in your work.
10. Jesus matters. Your relationship with him matters. It doesn't matter what church you attend. What matters is that you continue to learn about God and that you grow your relationship with him.
11. Life is funny. You have a wonderful sense of humor. I know, too, that you can sometimes get anxious and start to feel overwhelmed. Looking at the lighter side of things will help you through more situations than you know.
12. Driving a car is a dangerous proposition. I know that you have a full-on love affair with cars right now--the more exotic and the faster the better--but things can change in a split second. Don't ever let your guard down. Be defensive. Be smart. Be alert. Don't go faster than 15 m.p.h. (Please? Or maybe I could just drive you everywhere until you are like, 30. That would be okay too.)
13. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, created by God in all His wisdom, to be exactly who you are. I am continually awed by the young man you are becoming-- smart, friendly, funny, handsome, tender. I would like to say that the apple didn't fall far from the tree, but you have so much more going for you than I ever did. Your dad and I are wildly proud to have you as our son. We know that you will accomplish wonderful things. We are thankful, everyday, to have been blessed with you.
Oh, and one more thing--and this pains me to say, but I will say it for you because it's your birthday: Go Steelers! :)
Happy 13th birthday, son! You are my favorite James.