Twelve years old. One last year before you enter into teenager-dom. There’s always a certain amount of dread that is assumed when your kids turn into teenagers, but I’d like to think that these are the years that we are going to really connect with our kids as people, rather than just tiny humans to instruct and protect from the world. This is the time in your life when you get to put everything we’ve taught into practice on your own. All of our kids are uniquely wired, and I have to be honest – the thought of sending some of you into the real world scares the crap out of me. But I don’t worry about you. I know that when the time comes for you to be out on your own, you are going to thrive.
When your dad and I started hanging out, I remember the day he sent me a picture of you and your sister. I distinctly remember telling him that you were one of the most handsome kids I had ever seen (thanks in large part to your handsome daddy, who you look identical to). But when I actually got to know you, I discovered that you were so much more than a cute kid.
I know we tease you about being the “Jack Handey” of the family – what with all of your random, nonsensical outbursts – but Jake, you are an incredibly intelligent child. Your thirst for knowledge about how and why things work the way they do (another character trait that you share in common with your dad) is going to launch endless opportunities for you and your future. You have a relentless determination at finding out the solution to a problem, and it is going to take you far in this life. I’m truly excited to see exactly what you choose to do with that giant brain of yours. I know it’s going to be something big.
Speaking of your “Jack Handey”-ness….you may still be refining your ability to tell a good joke, but your sense of humor is one of the things I love most about you. You’re just a really fun kid to be around. Everyone loves you Jake, and that’s a good quality to have.
When my boys and I became a member of this family, I was overjoyed that they were inheriting another brother to do life with. Little did I know that God was placing us into a family to use the gifts and talents we each have to make us a better, stronger unit. You are the peacekeeper of our home, Jake. You have so many other qualities, but this is the one that shines brighter than the rest. You have a contrite spirit, and are always quick to both apologize, and to forgive. When you and your siblings are grown, and dad and I are gone, I know it will be you that will gather the family. You are the glue, buddy – and I am so thankful for you.
Thank you for being such a great big brother to the littles. Thanks for all the cold rags on my head when I had a migraine, and the foot rubs when you could tell that my day wasn’t going great. Thank you for always saying sorry before we have to even address the problem, and for always giving 100% at everything you do. You are loved, you are appreciated, and today – on your 12th birthday – you are celebrated.