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Friday, July 8, 2016

A letter to my sons on their 10th Birthday!

Dear Chase and Ryder,


Double digits. A decade. Two whole hands. The start of tween-age-dom. There are many names for this milestone but they all mean the same thing; TEN.

Ten. It makes me shiver. An eye-popping, head-scratching, let me re-check my math type of shiver. I can double and triple check but, the fact remains, my double first born are ten.  And, by looking at you, talking to you, knowing you, there is just no denying it.

As I write this letter, 5 of you (Turner and Ryder fell asleep before the fort transfer) are cuddled up in a fort for a sleepover party; the aftermath of a 17 boy birthday celebration with swimming, gaga, trampolines, and man hunt.  The party was great, albeit loud, and a true indicator of the great kids that you have both chosen for friends.  Although, I admit, I like hearing the laughter and the chatter and the discussion of girls, it truly is time for bed!!!

Last year, I commented on how 9 brought so many things but, most substantially, it marked the halfway point of your childhood.  Which means that this one, and every one from here on out, takes us, takes you, further from your childhood.  As your parent, that reality is baffling and also makes me a bit weepy.

Ryder, my sensitive superhero, every day you grow bigger, stronger, taller. Your shoulders are broad and your back is vast.  Your feet are bigger than mine though I do still have you by just a few inches in height...for now. I can't lift you, not even close, but you can and do lift me.  At 97 pounds and 56 inches you are solid as a rock and you're my go to for help carrying heavy things or moving furniture. You love that you have the strength required to help.  For all of your brawn, however, you're this deeply sensitive guy with an imagination and a creativity that can only be described as kinetic. Your body, your mind, your thoughts, your imagination are always, always in motion.  You've developed into an extremely self-aware and confident kid and you are comfortable with the person you are and are becoming. You're not afraid to be your own person and you recognize the wonderful in your very unique talents. You are thoughtful and passionate and, really, you are who you have always been, just more mature and more secure in your being. 

Fourth grade was a year of growth. You had an amazing teacher in Mrs. Carey and an awesome class. You embraced new friendships and cultivated deeper relationships with existing friendships. You've learned that you can be different than someone and still have a lot in common with them and you learned that  true friendship can be found where you least expect it. You've come to realize that you are one of the boys despite being your artsy self.   And, the boys are lucky to have you, because when it comes down to the nitty gritty of what being a real friend is there are not a lot out there that are better than you.  I hope you see the value in being a "true friend."  It makes me very proud.

Of all the things that you are at the top of the list is big brother.  You are absolutely amazing with Decker and he responds to you in kind.  You just seem to "get it" when it comes to a baby, or maybe you just get him. Either way, he adores you and you him and I know I can always count on you to care for him. You love him like you love most things, with passion and devotion and loyalty; that's just who you are.


As we begin this new decade I am hopeful to see you become more responsible, more thoughtful before acting, a little less impulsive.  I would like to see you dedicate yourself, through your talents and passions, to trying and being the best you can be at whatever it is you're doing.  Whether it is school work, art work, friendship, or daily chores- put your super large heart into it and just try and be the best you can be.  My faith in you is unwavering and my support is unconditional. Your possibilities are limitless, like your creativity, and I hope your desire catches up. 

You played basketball again this year, for Coach Bill again, and really enjoyed it. You improved a lot and did a great job on defense.  You enjoy playing and you practice often and I know you will continue to get better and better.  You also took Bass lessons at school and did great performing at the Spring Concert.  Your favorite color is still red. You've fallen in love with skateboarding and have embraced it and practice as often as you can.  You are trying to understand the sport from the bottom up.  Boards, building them and taking part, all the way up to the tricks of the trade. You love to read, are a YouTube phanatic, and love the band Green Day. You love television. You could watch all day if we would let you. And, though you are far less of a gamer than you used to be, you're still an electronics junkie whose face is often in my iPhone. Snapchat. Instagram. FaceTime. Group chat.  I could go on.  You've become very social and outgoing and tell stories with detail and excitement. You took a drawing class and did well and your talent is just blossoming. Your closest friends are Ethan and Connor and Jake and Aidan. And, of course, you're still close to Joey and Ryan. 

I can't wait to see what this year brings. 


Chase- my determined and disciplined superstar- you have grown taller and stronger (64 pounds and 54 inches), though you are still quite lean, and your back has broadened indicating a slow to come growth spurt that certainly has taken you out of the "smaller" category. Your lean body is pure muscle and your hands and feet move quickly and gracefully.   You are agile and fast both physically and mentally and have a heart that fuels itself on desire and competition.  Although you have recently lowered your own bar (just a bit) you still want to be the very best you can be at almost everything.  You are willing to work and to practice and to keep on trying until you master whatever it is you have set your mind on.  That discipline has served you well, most recently it was with the Rubik's cube that you vowed to solve.  And solve you did. I still don't understand how you can use ten different fingers to rotate each of the layers in many different directions at once, nor do I get how to solve it, but none of that matters. You can and do solve it swiftly and easily and continue to practice to do it better, faster. I hope this inner desire to win and the discipline to work continues to grow within you and keeps you striving for success.

4th grade was a good year for you in many ways.  Originally disappointed that most of your buddies were not with you in class, you were able to accept new friendships and came to realize that different people have different and wonderful things to offer.  You were impressed by your classmates smarts, or different hobbies, or silly personalities and accepted with your typical charm that not everyone loves sports. Mrs. Jaggers seemed to be a good match for you in the classroom (not to mention that she is Meg's best friend, a little fact that makes me happy!) and you excelled in almost all subjects. You were excited to learn, took it seriously, and as you do, tried to be the very best student you could be.  You love math, your skills in the subject have really taken off, and it won't be long before I will be completely unable to help you.  Luckily, you won't need much help in that area.

This year you traded your soccer cleats for ice skates and spent your first full season on a travel ice hockey team.  You missed soccer a bit, and were fortunate enough to play as a sub on many occasions, but overall hockey was a wonderful experience.  In addition to playing great hockey and improving your game, you made terrific memories and even better friends.  You are a very good hockey player and you love the sport and it shows in every way every time you are on the ice.  I am confident that you will continue to improve and develop as you play more and more.  You also had another enjoyable season of baseball.  For in-house you played for Coach Steve on the Falcons in the American League, which had you playing up with kids up to 12 years old.  For travel you played for Coach Steve as well.  This year's Bombers team had a lot of new (to you) kids on it and gave you an opportunity to play with some new boys and make some friends.  You played 1st base for the Bombers, which was a new experience.  Although you missed playing shortstop a bit more regularly, you embraced first base and played it very well.


Your favorite color is currently orange, which is no coincidence that it is the Flyers color. You love all Philly teams especially the Phillies and the Flyers. You like movies and magic and telling jokes. You're quieter than you were when you were younger, you keep more things close to your chest. You are still social, though less so, and continue to have a charming way about you.  Your closest friends are Ethan and Connor. In this new decade I hope that you can be a little neater and a little more thoughtful when it comes to the people and things around you. You have a tendency to get caught up in "Chase's bubble" and forget there's a big world out there.  You are a very smart kid who doesn't always think things through and I am hoping your tenth year can bring you a bit more of that and a bit more responsibility.  Childhood is for fun and memories and for learning so that you can be a responsible and respectable adult.  I want you to enjoy your childhood, as you are, and I want you to embrace the opportunity to learn.  I have no doubts about what you are capable of and I have a faith in you that can't be questioned.  I will always support you and I have no doubt of the success that will follow you.  I am so excited to see what this year brings you.


Everyday is an adventure with the two of you, the four of you, really; loud, hectic, often smelly and usually silly.  I love every minute of our life and I am beyond proud of both you, each of you, all of you.

You make me proud every day and I hope to continue to guide you so that you can make yourselves proud as well.

I love you so....

Growing into the birthday shirt
Almost bigger than the birthday shirt

The 9 year old letter