A Letter to my Son on his 12th Birthday

To my wonderful, goofy, clever, infuriating son, on his 12th birthday:

Where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday when we were driving home from the hospital, in what felt like the longest ride ever because your dad was so nervous.

Now, we’re nearly looking at each other eye-to-eye. We don’t always see eye-to-eye, but that’s just fine. You are no longer anyone’s mini-me, you are decidedly your own person: smart, funny, ridiculously sarcastic, often ridiculous. You are kind and sensitive, almost to a fault as you wear your heart on your sleeve. A tip from your mom, don’t go playing poker, kiddo.


You are driven and focused, and have a strong will to achieve that even you can’t really fight against. When you earned a place at the school Geography Bee, while you didn’t want to participate (so you claimed), when you did, you couldn’t not try.

I love that about you, too.

When I ask “is that your best effort” on a paper, I know I’ll get an honest answer if it’s not. (Thank you, Mrs. Griffiths, for helping instill this at a very young age).

You are loyal and dedicated and easily frustrated when others aren’t giving their 100%. It’s a hard row to hoe, but learning to push on when others don’t AND to not shoulder all the blame when things fall apart because of their failings will serve you well.

Moving you in the middle of fifth grade was a big ask, I know, and the transition wasn’t an easy one. One year on, I see a very different kid: one who is finding his own place, his own crowd (and, I think, the right one for you), and rebuilding his confidence. I couldn’t be prouder of how you’ve handled the change and tackled the problems it has created.


Some days, you seem wise beyond your years and so much more mature than a twelve-year-old should be.

The next minute, you struggle to open a Gatorade bottle or share a totally sixth-grade level joke (that is funny only to you), and, once again, all is right with the world.


Your love for soccer is all-consuming and I will happily drive you to trainings, to matches, and to the physical therapist as much as is needed – so long as you start bringing your smelly soccer clothes down to the laundry room because with age comes things like the start of a mustache and teen boy funk.


A little vacuuming would be great, too. You USED to love it.

Just yesterday, you were my toddler, afraid to walk on the grass.

Today, I’m scrubbing grass stains out of your shirts because of all the time spent practicing on the pitch.


Just yesterday, it seems, you were learning to ride a bike in the backyard.

Today you shout “I’m going to the field to kick around with Jonathan” as you toss your backpack over your shoulder and fly out the door and wheel out of the garage. Telling you to be careful at the intersections because cars drive too fast in our neighborhood feels like hovering. Because you know better.
Just yesterday, you were waving enthusiastically at the garbage man as you stood in the window. He would wait, every week until your little face appeared, and only then would he raise the bucket to dump what he’d collected in the back of the truck.


Today, you talk sports, particularly soccer, like it’s your business. How you know every player in every soccer league, I’ll likely never know and if you could put that attention to detail to remembering to put away your clean laundry in a manner that still resembles folded, I’d be a happy mom.


I remember how my heart broke when you stopped giving hugs, and how you took my breath away when you starting giving them again.

It’s hard to let go, to let you walk your own path and make your own mistakes because, in so many ways, you’re still my baby. And I know, my firstborn, that you’re not always ready to walk some walks on your own (by the way we shove you out the door), but know that we do it with love.

I can see the amazing person you are becoming, and I’m more than a little awed by it.


I love you more than words can say. I’d say it even more than that, if I knew it didn’t embarrass you to death.


Happy birthday, big guy. I think twelve is going to be an amazing year for you


  1. Gmom Phyl says

    Sam is THE BEST!! He is harder on himself than anyone else is. Wonder where that came from, x 2???? You captured him once again, Jenn.

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