Happy 14th Birthday to you.
There are a few things I want you to know.
I fell in love with you long before I ever knew you. I protected you. I dreamed of what you would be. Now that I know you I love you even more. I want to protect you more than ever. Most importantly I am proud of who you are. There is one thing I want you to believe: You are more than enough. You are tall enough, you are smart enough, you are athletic enough and you are handsome enough. The YOU that you are makes you special. I am proud of the little boy that you were and am very hopeful about the man you will become. Your smile makes me happy and your hugs make me feel complete. I laugh at your quick wit. Sometimes when you don’t know I am watching I see how patient and loving you are with Sadie and it makes my heart happy. When you are kind-I am proud. When you are responsible-I am thankful. When you think of others first it makes me smile.
At 14 you feel grown—I know, but there are more things I have to tell you, more lessons I need to teach you.
- When you have a girlfriend that is a relationship between you and the girl. Not you, the girl and her friends or your friends.
- When a girl shows you who she really is—BELIEVE HER.
- Be careful with that sweet heart of yours.
- You’ve seen this year that life can hurt. It can be hard. There are days when you feel lost and confused. You are not alone. No matter how hard the decision or how difficult the circumstances I will be there to help you. I will always listen. I won’t always agree and you will not always like or heed my advice. We’ve been together from the very beginning…it was you and me long before anyone else got to meet you. You and I will always be a team.
- Keep swimming. Your strength, your grace in the water and your fighting spirit inspires me. Don’t get lazy. Keep pushing. Keep digging deep. I’ve seen you do amazing things in the water. I’ve seen you win races you shouldn’t have won. The lessons you learn in the pool will carry you far in life. Others may mock you for swimming. Don’t listen. They don’t understand your strength. They tease you and call you swim boy and I know it hurts. If you can, try not to let their stupidity make you doubt yourself. Be proud. What you do can’t be done by big, brawny, thick neck boys. What they don’t understand they make fun of. Ignore them.
- Try to like your sister a little more. Someday it will just be you and her against the world.
- You are social. You always have been and I imagine you always will be. That’s okay but we’ve got to learn when it’s okay to be talky-talky and when it’s not. Sometimes listening is much more important than talking.
- Don’t ever forget your manners. Ever.
- Don’t ever forget to be a gentleman.
- Be appreciative. Be thankful.
- Learn the value of hard work. Work first and play later. It will pay off in the end.
- There is a big REAL world beyond the video games. Get out in it. Feel the crispness in the fall air, enjoy the summer sun, watch things bloom and grow in the spring and bundle up and see what the winter has to offer. Don’t get lost in those games. There is too much adventure waiting on you.
- Be patient. You will be an adult soon enough. Enjoy being a young man.
- Learn to study; not just to answer what is on the test but to really learn and understand the information.
- Take the time to know your Grandpa and to hear his stories. You were named after him for a reason. There is a lot you will learn from him.
- Not everyone will like the decisions you make. If you make a decision with a good heart and a clear mind than own that decision. You won’t always be able to make everyone happy.
- Be a graceful loser.
- Dress for the occasion. Gym shorts and t-shirts have a place but so do button downs and collared shirts.
- Own your faith-whatever that might be.
- Hug your momma more. It makes me happy.
- Don’t just be with the family—be engaged during family time.
- Eat better. Eat or at least TRY new foods.
- Have a really good friend.
- Learn to do the laundry and the dishes. It’s not fun. One day you’ll have an apartment or a dorm room and you will be really glad you know how to care for it. Further into the future you’ll meet a girl you want to make your wife; that you want to build a home with, that you want to mother your children. Knowing how to be domestic will help impress her. I promise.
- Never quit reading.
- Be trusting but be wary. Not everyone you meet is going to be a good person.
- Always have a conversation with the adult in the room. No matter what.
- Learn to shake hands. And then shake hands with the adults you meet.
- Learn to save money.
- Do not ever break up with a girl using an electronic means. Respect her enough to do it in person. Be man enough to look her in the eye. Don’t use phrases like: it is not you-it’s me or I hope we can be friends. Be honest but kind. Be up front but gentle. If she cries, wipe her tears. If she is angry-let her be.
- Trust your heart but listen to your head. Sometimes what you want to do and what you should do are not the same. You’ll have to learn how to decipher each moment.
- When the time comes– love with all of your heart BUT don’t try and give your heart away too soon. Love takes trust and time.
- Don’t ever change for a girl and don’t ever expect a girl to change for you.
- If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck—it is a duck. Trust me.
- Turn off the Ipod, the phone and anything else that plugs in when you are around other people.
- The electronic word never goes away. Be careful of what you type, post and publish.
- Be bold and brave.
- Find something you are passionate about and try to earn a living at it.
- Only buy what you can afford.
- Never forget you are loved.
Happy day to you!
All of my love,