Happy 16th birthday. Holy mother of God my kid is 16. Just wait until you have kids and have to say the words, "my kid is 16 years old." Because, and here is the crux of it, somewhere inside of you there will still be a 16 year old kid when you have to say those words. When I turned forty I said something about how strange it was to my mom and she said, "You have absolutely no idea how strange it is to feel forty and have a forty year old child. No idea." And, I imagine she's right, because YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW STRANGE IT IS TO HAVE A SIXTEEN YEAR OLD KID!
Two years ago when I posted your birthday blog it said that you had only 3 inches to go to pass your dad in height, he's 5'10" tall (See that one here). Last year I mentioned you had hit 6 feet (See that one here). (Holy crap, that means you grew 5 inches in 2011/1012). This year it is worth mentioning that you are topping out at just over 6'2" and showing no signs of stopping anytime soon. You have reached in feet what you started life with in pounds. You were 6 tiny pounds when you were born, I have no idea what you weigh now but I know it is substantially more than 6 pounds!
You are a fantastic son, a fantastic brother and a fantastic person. I feel so blessed to have you in my life every day. I think about who I was as a 16 year old and you are smarter, funnier and kinder. You have more direction and bigger, better goals than I did. If my mom had left me and my best friend overnight alone to watch my little brother at your age, there is a possibility that I would have put 2 kegs of beer in the bathtub and that the weight of those kegs would have pulled down the shower pipe and buckled the tile and scratched a half inch of enamel off of the bathtub and that it would have taken me a year to pay for that damage. To be clear; I am not admitting this happened, I'm just saying it would be more likely to happen on my watch than yours. You? You I can leave overnight with your sisters and know that while you might ignore them part of the time, they will be fed and clothed and their teeth will get brushed. Not that you won't still neglect to wash the dishes, but come on, you are a teenager after all.
So this year I am offering a little in the way of advice, a piece of advice for every year I've lived, let's begin with the obvious;
- Never put two kegs of beer in a bathtub, it's just a bad decision.
- Don't give yourself away too easily.
- When you fall in love, fall, don't be afraid, it is always worth it.
- Don't be afraid to let your peers see how funny you are.
- Don't be afraid to be serious with anyone.
- Stay true to yourself.
- Always treat women the way you would want your mom and yours sisters to be treated.
- Set boundaries, but not so many that you fence yourself in.
- Try new things (except drugs, with that whole inattentive AD/HD thing you're going to want to maintain focus through college).
- Let yourself fail, failures are lessons.
- Let yourself fly, risks have rewards.
- No matter what anyone says to you, real men cry, real men aren't afraid to show emotion.
- No means no; no matter how far you've gone before no matter how far you go in the future. Someone says no and you stop.
- Go in for the kiss but go more softly than you think you should.
- Use the one eyebrow thing with girls, they love it.
- Do NOT wait three days to call her. But it's okay to wait more than one.
- If you SAID you were going to call, CALL. This applies to all girls, including your mom.
- Always shake hands.
- Always, always trust your instincts. The only real mistakes you will make in life will be when you don't trust your instincts.
- Being married is the hardest thing you will ever "be," it is a tremendous amount of work.
- Being a parent is the hardest thing you will ever "do," it is the most simultaneously joyful and painful job you will ever have.
- Get married, have kids.
- Know in the depths of your soul that you will be a fantastic parent.
- Keep Nate. Having a true best friend is the best gift you can give yourself, it will get you through all of the things you think you aren't strong enough to get through.
- Be a good best friend it will inform who you are as a person.
- Know that the people who love you never really leave you.
- Whether your belief in God ever changes; that is up to you, but have faith. Faith is essential to the human experience. Faith in something bigger than yourself is essential.
- Don't be afraid to get in trouble. A) your mom is really reasonable B) it's good for personal growth
- If you have been falsely arrested it's okay to call your mom to bail you out. (Don't let Olivia see this list, she will never be falsely arrested.)
- If you have been correctly arrested, you'd be wasting a phone call; a well earned night in jail is a really effective natural consequence. Yes, I will know the difference. No, I won't sleep while you're there but I'll sleep better once you're out. So will you.
- The things you earn are so much sweeter than the things you are given.
- Always wear clean underwear (it's just good sense).
- Vote. Or never come home again (just kidding).
- Always stand up for others (unless doing so would get you killed, I am your mom). Pretend the guy from "What Would You Do?" is hiding around every corner.
- Read books, all of them, every one you can get your hands on.
- Have hobbies, someday you will need them.
- Watch the news, local and national. Know what is going on around you, form opinions.
- If you can't tell a lie well (news flash: you can't) then stick with the truth and cry if you can. If you lied, stick with it to the bitter end, no one likes a quitter.
- Believe in magic. It is real.
- Take really good care of your teeth, your feet and your back. They are way more important than you know.
- Assume your mother knows everything even your secret Twitter handle.
- Know in your heart of heart's that your Mom loves you exactly the way you are. You are exactly enough.