To Jim on His 9th Birthday
You were so excited to turn 9 today. I don’t know if I have ever met anyone who was as pumped to hit that age as you have been. 10? Sure. It’s double digits. And you will be ecstatic to turn 10 I am sure. But today you turned 9 and today that was the greatest thing of all.
Every year, I feel like I am going to do an increasingly inadequate job of writing these letters to you. The older you get the more enmeshed you are into our lives. It becomes increasingly difficult to remember a time when your presence didn’t fill our home, when your squinty, freckled smile didn’t greet us in the morning, when you didn’t crawl up into one of our laps.
And I know I have mentioned this before, but it also doesn’t feel like it should have been this long. Nine? How do we have a nine year old kid? You’re a year away from ending your elementary school career. And, yes, part of that is because Nashville public schools do middle school from 5th to 8th grade—which seems absurd to me—but the reality is still staring your mom and I in the face. You should not be this old, but it also feels like you’ve always been with us. Parenting is weird, buddy.
Parenting is weird, but I am grateful that I am your dad (and Liam’s too). It is day in and day out probably one of the most challenging things I have done. I sometimes seriously question how good a job I am doing. But I keep pushing forward and getting up every day to do it again, because I love you two so much. It helps that you both do a great deal that makes it so worthwhile. The way you are quick to tell us you love us. The times you ask great questions. When you show kindness to someone without us having to prompt you. Those moments where you strap me into your roller coaster of creativity and I see a glint in your eye that looks very familiar. I am grateful I get to be part of this.
Your emotions are so big right now. I sometimes don’t know what to do with your anger. But by the same token, I’m sometimes blown away with how much you care. You are entering a period when all you feel is going to seem tough to manage, but I know (and hope and pray) that your big heart is going to lead you to do some wonderful things for people one day. I see glimpses of it now and it’s awesome. I don’t know what you will do but I know that as you grow into your heart, it will be wonderful.
Some things about you at nine. You are really into Pokémon. I do not understand Pokémon. At all. But man you love it. You still love superheroes, Legos, and Star Wars. You love to watch me play Zelda and enjoy learning to play Mario Kart. You love to read, which makes my heart so incredibly happy. We have more books than we know what to do with for your birthday. You probably won’t get them all. You are endlessly creative; inventing and drawing stories and monsters and comic books.
You asked for a Bible for your birthday and you will get that tomorrow. I love that faith is important to you. Even though I’m a minister, that is not something I take for granted. As you delve into that biblical library of stories, my prayer is that you will test everything and hold to the good. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to love God and your neighbor with everything you’ve got.
Your birthday was on a Saturday this year, but as I brought drinks for your class snack on Friday a bunch of your classmates decided to get together and wish you Happy Birthday once you came in the room. They were excited to see you and celebrate you. Jim, you are loved so much. By those friends, by people at church, by your family, and by your mom and I. Never ever forget how much you are loved. And if you ever do forget, find me because I have scores of reasons why I love you. Your mom does too. So do your grandparents, aunts, uncles, and more. You are loved by us and by God more than you will ever know.
Happy 9th birthday Jim! I am so lucky that I get to be your dad. I can’t wait to see what this year has in store.