Eight is Great!

Dear Eddie,

You are eight and eight is GREAT, of course.

Let me tell you all about yourself as you are right now.

You are absolutely, without a doubt, my showman. You love to have people look at and listen to you. Ever since you could toddle around, you have wanted to play with or near me (or your dad). You want to be able to give running commentary on what you are thinking. Just today, you had the entire Lego bin upstairs so you could design and build and talk. Your mind is constantly working; the wheels constantly turning. I know this, because mine is exactly the same.

In fact, Daddy and I laugh sometimes at how we can be talking about one thing, and you start talking about something totally different with no segue or introduction or anything. We often have to stop and say, “wait. What are you talking about?” We laugh because I used to do the exact same thing–all the way until I was in college. Ok I still do it to some degree.

You are such a compassionate, deep thinker. You question everything shamelessly. I admire that about you. A few weeks ago you and I were riding in the car and you said to me, “Mom. Sometimes I find it so strange that I am who I am. Like I am in this body just being a person and seeing things through my eyes. I know, that’s sort of weird and I don’t know how to explain it.” But the thing is, Eddie? I totally knew what you were talking about. When I was your age, I used to just stare out a window and think those sort of thoughts too. Shoot. I still do.

You and I have so much in common. Our brains operate much the same way. This serves us well now; we have a great relationship. We enjoy being with each other because we enjoy the same things: reading, writing, relaxing, talking. Don’t get me wrong. You like a LOT of stuff I honestly don’t care much about: Pokemon, video games, Captain Underpants, and that stupid trout song from Puss in Books on Netflix. Actually we have almost zero in common when it comes to choosing what to watch on Netflix.

But we both like to be silly. We both think a lot. We both believe in being kind. We both want to make people smile. We both believe in standing up for what is just and right.

In fact, your 2nd grade teacher this year told Daddy and me that you were a little activist. Daddy rolled his eyes and said, “I wonder where he got that?” and looked at me. I was smiling hugely, because you and I are the same.

And yet, we are not the same in some key areas. At your age I was not as socially brave as you are. I was afraid to try new things because I was afraid to fail. You are confident and willing to give anything a go. You just want to have fun whether that is in sports or school or scouts. I would not say you are serious or particularly passionate about any one thing just yet. This is apparent when anyone asks you what you want to be when you grow up.

In your mind, the whole world is open to you. You can do whatever you set your heart on. And right now, it is true. But what I want you to know is that is a privilege for you. You live a very privileged life, my son. It’s not because we are rich, because we certainly are not. It is not because you get whatever you want when you want it, because you certainly do not. But by happenstance of birth, you live a very comfortable life. You were born into a white, middle-class family who lives in a nice little subdivision in an area of very low crime. You go to a good, affluent school district. You are male.

The world is yours, so to speak.

What I hope for you is that you recognize that privilege and use it for good:

That you give more than you take.

That you listen more than you speak.

That you stand up more than you stay seated.

That you speak out more than you stay silent.

That you shine the light on those who are often in the shadows more than you hog that light for yourself.

I believe you will do these things because you are already very interested in what is right and just. And honestly, we need you–and others your age–to step up because the grown-ups right now are busy making things a mess. There is still so much racism, sexism, classism, ableism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, xenophia…the list goes on and on. It seems that tolerance and love are buried under a lot of hate and fear.

Eddie, I know that your heart has more acceptance and love in it than anything else.

I know you will help to change the world.

I believe in you, Eddie Bear. I believe you can do what you set out to do. You will fail sometimes, yes. But I think if you are passionate and truly love, you will be successful.

I’m so glad you’re you.

And I am so honored that we are a part of each other.

I love you, my precious son.

Do great things with great love.

Happy 8th birthday.

Love,
Mom

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About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

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