Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Young Man

Dear Young Man -

Today, you are 21 years old. You've reached that milestone that most people can't wait to get to...seeing it off in the distance as something so far out of reach. The milestone that will make people recognize that you're officially an adult now.

But in my mind...for so long, you've been so mature. So responsible. Still a boy in some ways, but more often these last two years, when you talk about your music or school or jobs, you're a grown up.

You're vulnerable, but you're also finding your strengths. You're capable.

You are beginning to understand how this World works, but you are not willing to pass judgement upon it. You're still willing to give the World a chance. Don't ever stop. No matter what happens, please keep believing it is a magnificent, miraculous place.

You've seen relationships succeed and fail. You seem to do what you can to make relationships work...even if they are not what you originally thought they'd be, and that reminds me of your father. (It's a wonderful, diplomatic quality that I envy in a good way.)

You are open to new experiences. You aren't cynical. You are very, very smart and you're discovering that there isn't really anything you can't do, if you try your best.

You aren't a jerk. That is a funny way to phrase a compliment, isn't it? But I mean to say it just like that because I see some very jerky people your age and my age. I have never seen you do anything mean to have no spite. You tease, but you tease gently. You would never pass over into cruel. Instead, you're careful and considerate. This is a rare quality and you (and your Dad who also possesses it) don't realize just how rare it is because there are some seriously selfish bastards out there. I'm so glad you aren't one of them!

I know I had nothing to do with raising you, Young Man. You have fantastic parents, and you were well on your way to being the person you are now when I met you seven years ago.

But I have so enjoyed becoming your friend and watching you navigate your teen years, and I'm grateful that I was there for all of it. Those years can be really tough. You got through it all so gracefully and bravely. And you had fun. I will, my whole life, remember how inspiring and amazing it has been to watch you find your music and to follow your dreams.

I'm proud of you. I'm proud to be a part of your family and I'm proud to be your friend. My life didn't unfold in a way that allowed me to biologically have a son, but I couldn't even imagine one better than you. And I couldn't love you any more, if you were my very own.

Happy Birthday to you, and here's to many, many more.


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