Dear Tolliver,

Your brother turned eleven in Hawaii, and I worried about how you might feel, stuck in Ohio this month.
I shouldn't have, because I'm pretty sure you'd choose the Ohio State / Michigan game over Hawaii every time, win or lose.

The end of November is my annual chance to remind you of your baby self, just a bowling pin of a boy, all round middle and unsteady feet. You seemed, for years, to be built mostly of weapons you had yet to master. Even then, I imagined you running as far and as fast as you could in the direction of your best and happiest dreams. 

For your birthday, what you wanted more than anything, was to skip school. You really like fifth grade (and your teachers and your peers *really* like you). This morning we sent an email to the attendance secretary and took off, your favorite diner for breakfast followed by the geological museum on campus. We hiked at a nature preserve we hadn't visited before, off trail, per usual with you in the lead. We browsed camping gear and enjoyed fried rice for dinner and you had a batting lesson with a baseball coach to cap off the day.

As a preteen, your opinions are often like pellets from a peashooter. And your grin is like a streak of lightning. You have a remarkable sense for household help, absolute competence with some kind of calculated mediocrity, maybe to avoid another assignment?
You are a keeper, Tolliver. A charmer, a striver, a furnace of your own ambition.

You know better than to waste any effort trying to be extraordinary when there are so many better things to be. Be a friend. Be a mirror. Be vulnerable. Behave. You tend to focus on consistent and reliable, and although it may be secondary, you're still extraordinarily impressive in lots of wonderful ways.

I am forever grateful for the bewildering magic of being your mom. I love you so much, buddy, on this birthday and every single day. 
Zero conditions apply.
If I could knit those words to your skin, I would.



rht said...

We love you too, Tolliver! Happy Birthday!

Poppy John said...

Knit? Heck.
We'll chip in on a tattoo!