I cannot believe it, but you are a teenager now! It's been a wild ride to get to this point, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. You and I have been teaching each other about life, and I believe we've both learned so much and are better for the knowledge we've gained. It has been a delight to watch you grow and learn and mature throughout the years. This last year was probably the most challenging year we have ever experienced--as a family and as a world--and I have been so impressed with the way you have handled every stressful situation and disappointment with courage and resilience. You are an overcomer, and I am so proud of you!
Just before the world shut down due to COVID-19, you had the opportunity to travel with Nana on your 12-year trip to Pigeon Forge, TN and The Ark Experience in KY. You had a wonderful time and got to do so many neat things, and you experienced the world going into lockdown mode in real time. As the world slowly started to open back up in the summer, you got to travel to California (with stops at the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas) and Florida. You also got to spend some time at Mimi and Grandpa's during the summer and Nana and Papa's during the winter break. And we began the New Year with a little trip to Kerrville, where we stayed at a cool Jellystone campground.
During quarantine, you decided to revive the barn project and took it upon yourself to figure out how to install all of the electrical outlets and the tv, creating a super fun place to hang out. In December, we added a PS3 to the mix, making the space even more fun. It was a challenging project, but you stuck with it, watching YouTube videos and chatting with experts (your dad and grandpa) until you accomplished your goal.
Another thing you became very interested in during quarantine was coins, especially pennies, and you have taken on the role of our resident numismatist. You have spent hours and hours watching YouTube videos to learn about coins and pouring through piles of change looking for oddities and rare treasures.
When you aren't engaged in these specialty hobbies, you can be found with your nose in a book (on weekdays) or your eyes glued to a screen (on weekends). You might also be found playing with Ollie, who joined our family late in the summer. You mostly love him, but sometimes you feel he plays a little too rough, and you don't appreciate it when he tries to interfere with the electricity in the barn by either chewing on or unplugging the extension cord. He does seem to be in tune with the feelings of everyone in our household, and he has been a comfort to you many times when you were feeling kind of down or upset.
You are back at the iSchool this year for 7th grade, and you are thriving there. You have some good friends and are making excellent grades, and you enjoy the whole environment of the school. It's a good place for you, and I'm thankful you have the opportunity to go to school there.
While you have struggled with the occasional emotional outburst this year, I have seen you make significant progress in managing your emotions and reactions. It is becoming more natural for you to take a breath, create some space, redirect your attention, and use your words to convey what you need and want. As I previously mentioned, you are an overcomer. I'm proud of the ways you are maturing, and I'm thankful for the ways your brain is developing to relieve some of the internal stress and anxiety you have experienced during most of your 13 years.
You are an amazing kid, Max, and I'm so thankful to have you in my life! You are kind and generous and thoughtful. You believe in justice and standing up for what you think is right. You are courageous and creative and curious. You are a problem solver and a hard worker. You teach me many things and help me become a better person. I love you so much! Happy 13th birthday!
|Arriving on the Teen Scene|