My dear eldest child/teenager,
I know that I tell you these things often, but sometimes it is easier to truly believe something when you read it rather than hear it. Additionally, I feel it is important to acknowledge those around us who positively impact us with their behavior and presence. I think it is important to actually tell these individuals how much we appreciate them instead of just assume they know it. So, in light of that, here are some things I really appreciate about you:
You are almost always the first one to come into the kitchen, lean into my side and offer to help with whatever I am doing or making. I love that you are interesting not only in helping, but also in spending time with me. I know that this is not always the case for teenagers, and I am hopeful that this pattern continues.
I love that you truly adore our furry family members. You cuddle, and play, giving our kitties the love and attention they so crave. When you take breaks from doing homework, or when you come inside (from playing, from school, from running errands), you seek them out to give them some positive attention.
I know that if I need help, a favor, an extra pair of hands, or a quick pair of feet, I can ask you and it will be done. Do you know how much that helps me? Even better, rarely do you kvetch or whine about it, which makes me appreciate your help even more. Asking your brothers can almost be as much of a chore as just doing the task on my own.
I know we’ve seen a few hints of the ‘ugly teenager attitude’ rear its rather ugly and all-encompassing head a handful of times. I know a number of your friends let that same ‘ugly teenager’ roar all too often. I love that you are keeping your good attitude most of the time.
I know you think that I don't know what you are doing when you are 'doing your homework'. I know you think I don't know that you play video games, too, when you claim you are finishing your lab report or writing your long story for English. I also know, judging from your marks in school, that you really are doing your school tasks most of the time, so while still allowing for play, you are doing a decent job of managing the call of the video games.
You are right probably 98% of the time. Maybe even 99% of the time. I am amazed at how much you truly know. That does not, however, mean that I know less than you do. I actually am quite knowledgeable about a number of different subjects. I appreciate your humoring me and listening to me when I tell you things; some day you will know that what I tell you is actually factual and intended to be helpful, rather than just an opportunity for me to yammer on and on. Thank you for not rolling your eyes as you hear me out.
I know it bothers you occasionally when I am involved in things at school, and maybe even do things like get up with a group of other parents and dance for our American tribute song. I don’t get involved in these activities and events to embarrass you; I just love to be involved in school, and especially in these sorts of events. I love going to your games and cheering for you and for your team. I love knowing who your friends are, and being able to put a face to the names you so often mention. I love being on the Board and having a (hopefully) positive impact on the school. I love volunteering for the PTO to help foster a positive school community. I do these things because I love you and your brothers and I want the schools you attend to be as positive as possible. I do these things because I believe that when parents are involved in schools, it helps reinforce the importance of a positive education experience for our kids, and contributes to the development of a lifelong love of learning. Thank you for not rolling your eyes when you see me at school.
I love that you share your school assignments with me. I love to hear about what you are learning and what is happening in your classes and amongst your friends. You know that I am not going to blab what you tell me to other parents; we hold each other’s confidences. I feel honored that you share your day with me. I send you off on the bus every morning, entrusting you to various teachers and school officials. It makes me happy that you know how curious I am about your hours away from me. Little by little, I know you are gaining independence and soon enough, you will be moving to a university setting, so I appreciate this time when you are still under our roof, sharing your days with me.
I fear the day one of your friends or schoolmates offers you drugs or alcohol, but I rely on the skills we have taught you, your self-confidence, and your innate sense of right and wrong to answer in a way that not only keeps you safe from harm, but also helps your friend or schoolmate potentially rethink their behavior. Using drugs not only negatively effects your growing and developing brain, but also your sporting abilities and thought processes. Just say no, my dear, and try to positively influence those that may waiver.
I love that you are not only not a bully, but you stand up for those who are unkind to others. Being a good friend is so important, not just now for you in school, but throughout your life.
I love that you are taking advantage of the opportunities offered by attending a smaller school, and getting involved in as many sports and activities as possible. If we were at a larger school, or perhaps in the States, I wonder if you’d be as willing to try so many different activities; perhaps you would already be programmed into one track, as many children are in the States. You have to pick ‘your’ sport or interest early on; one does not enter into soccer or swimming in middle school. I love that you are open to each experience, and appreciative of the people you meet while doing it.
I applaud how open you are to new experiences. Be it eating whatever sea creature comes on the ‘ocean wonders platter’ to dressing in gladiator garb and learning the fine art of javelin throwing to seeing who can jump the farthest from the rubber raft during the calm stretches of white water rafting down the Nile River. I love that your curious nature and enthusiastic energy is ready for any adventure.
No parent would ever say they have favorite children. I dare say, though, that because you are our eldest, and because we experience all of these life things - different phases, different abilities, different habits - with you first, I feel as though we are on an adventure together which is an amazing experience.
Thank you for sharing these experiences with me.
I love you hugely,