When your daily activities are in concert with your highest priorities, you have a credible claim to inner peace. – Hyrum Smith


To An 8 Year Old Boy

Dear Parker,

This post comes a few days after your actual birthday.  It is Saturday night, and you are tucked in bed, surrounded by stray Lego pieces and Nerf bullets.  Today was a doozy.  Today we held your 8th birthday party in our home.  And it was LOUD!

There was a point today, during the party, when I took a step back and just smiled.  I smiled because you'd done it again.  You'd won the hearts and loyalty of a brand-new group of friends, halfway around the world from your home.  In the short eight months we have been in Singapore, you have managed to form your own little "gang" of buddies.  You ride bikes in the street with them, play war games and Slugterra, swim, have Nerf battles, and build Legos together on a daily basis.  You are a natural born leader, and today, I watched in admiration as you directed the troops.

You still get tearful when you talk about your friends in Kentucky and Texas, and while that breaks my heart, it also brings me joy to know you form meaningful, lasting relationships.  This is a skill that will serve you well, son.

You have continued your work as an entrepreneur.  In Kentucky it was a hot apple cider stand, in Texas, a lemonade stand.  Here in Singapore, you are "selling" your very own homemade bug spray (which you advertise as "100% safe for humans").  While you haven't actually sold any yet, you have given away many samples and distributed numerous flyers to potential [5-8 year old] customers (with permission slips attached, of course). 

You love math and Chinese classes.  You play soccer and Match Attack trading cards.  You are starting to beat me at Battleship and checkers.  You love chess and swimming.  You just got a bike with gears and ride everywhere.   

You are an amazing big brother.  The way you include Jack in the neighborhood games just melts my heart.  I watched one day as he raced to put on his shoes so he could join you and your friends outside after school.  I held my breath as he trotted down the street, plastic sword in hand.  Would you let him play with the big boys?  Then I heard you shout: "Hey guys, my little brother is on our team, so he qualifies. C'mon Jack, stay with us."  I turned away with happy tears in my eyes.  You amaze me, sweet boy.

As much as you and Maddie fight, you are closer than ever since we moved here.  You are best friends and worst enemies all at once.  You are a shared soda and a pillow fight.  You are her annoying big brother and her hero.

Caleb is in love with you, too.  He allows you to carry him around and gives you kisses on demand.  You pat his head and call him "Cutie" and he follows you like a puppy dog.

I am so very proud of you.  I have read the articles.  The ones that tell me that I should say, "Wow!  I'm really proud of how hard you worked at that!"  The ones that warn parents to shy away from simply saying "I'm proud of you.  You're amazing!  You're special!"  Because you just might believe you are unique and important.  You might become spoiled and develop a sense of entitlement.

I read those articles.  I try to change the wording of my praise.  However, I don't know if the adaptations will prove useful, because I think you know that I just adore you.  I love you because you are you.  You are special and unique.  You are one of a kind.  You are amazing.  (And I hope you don't read this for many years to come so it doesn't mess up your development too badly.)

I love you, my sweet eight year old boy.  Thank you for teaching me how to be a mommy.

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