Thursday, April 25, 2013

My Son -- Soon to Be Twelve


Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

-- Kahlil Gibran

When I was married to my previous husband, we got pregnant on my birthday August 7. We found out the baby's due date was on his birthday, April 29 or 30 (forgive me for forgetting but he is my ex now, so...) Frankly, I thought that was pretty special. Turns out, he came late and was born on May 2 instead. (I may post later about why the doctors were so very glad he came late...it has to do with my contracting poison sumac while mowing the lawn at 9 months pregnant. But that's a story for another day.) 

This post is in honor of my favorite human -- James Sumner Freeman Futrell (yes, officially).

Today is April 25, and as my beautiful son's birthday approaches, I reflect on the purpose he has brought to my life and the blessing he has been to me -- and to Michael, my current/last/forever husband -- and James REAL father. Although we share our feelings openly in this family and we encourage one another to honor the god-within each of us, I cannot put into appropriate words for my soon-to-be twelve year old to understand the depths to which he has journeyed in his young life. He is quite spiritual for his age and he is gifted with sensitivities that most do not have or cherish if they do. However, as he gets older and better able to process thoughts, words and actions, I share with him stories of his past, stories of our predecessors, stories of great men and women world wide, throughout history. I encourage him to read and when he reads, to read of meaningful events in time, special people in history, unique places in the world. My hope is to continue a tradition of curious exploration of the world around him, and more importantly, the world within him. 

He has read a great deal about the Holocaust and then visited the Holocaust Museum. He has read about Al Capone and visited Alcatraz where his grandfather once treated the prisoners. He has read about Louie Zamperini and actually visited with this most amazing man about which "Unbroken" was written. He has read about Don Quixote and now knows perception is everything. The way we choose to see the world is how it shall be -- even though we may not always be able to control what happens to us, we can control how we perceive it. We create our own reality.

Until James was about nine years old, we read together as a family. Now, he reads on his own. Unfortunately, he has discovered "Minecraft" (ugh) so he doesn't embrace the reading as oft. However, we require a half-hour of reading daily -- no excuses. 

When he was younger, we read this silly little book together where we had to answer specific questions throughout. As James approaches twelve, I delight in re-reading our answers. In honor of my little man for his twelfth birthday, I laugh out loud, cry out loud and still wonder with amazement about the purpose he has brought to our lives. Some are serious, some are funny, all are meaningful and true. Enjoy...

Three words that best describe you: 
Mike: 1. picky eater, 2. loving, and 3. gregarious
Susan: 1. conscientious, 2. loving, and 3. smart

Favorite things to do with you:
Mike: Read as a family; playing sports
Susan: Reading; getting yogurt; visiting one-on-one because you make me laugh; talking about life and God; listening in when you and dad say your prayers together; travelling because James is an awesome travel pal.

Favorite nickname for you:
Mike: Peanut
Susan: Giacomo-mo

If you were a cookie, you'd be:
Mike: Chocolate Chip - my favorite
Susan: Chocolate Chip - everyone's fave

The first time I saw you I felt:
Mike: Jealous of all the hair
Susan: Overwhelmed with love and wonder; fear that I could not possibly love you as you deserve

I'm so proud of you because:
Mike: You are committed to your school work
Susan: You are joy-filled and you bring a smile to everyone you meet

If you were a movie you'd be:
Mike: an action adventure
Susan: a slapstick comedy

A story we will never tire of:
When James went totally unnoticed by the secret service and hung out on the beach with President Obama and his family 

Thank you for teaching me:
Mike: To pray to God with authenticity
Susan: To be patient and have compassion

I love when you help me:
Mike: Cook
Susan: Cook

I love it when you:
Mike: Sing; play sports; laugh; do the chicken dance
Susan: Laugh; do your homework; help others

You always make me laugh when you:
Mike: Fart 
Susan: Quote Calvin and Hobbes

Here are some ways you've changed my life:
Mike: Made me younger; brought verve into my life; I know love
Susan: You are the reason I breathe, my reason for being

I always appreciate when you:
Mike: Hug me
Susan: Use your manners

The thing I admire most about you is:
Mike: Wisdom; compassion for others
Susan: Value of God, self, others -- in that order; zest for life

If you were an animal, you'd be:
Mike: A squirrel trying to get a nut
Susan: A genius breed of dog

The quirky things I love about you:
Mike: That you read Calvin and Hobbes while on the pot
Susan: That you are bold and brave -- even in the face of bullies hurting others

I predict when you grow up, you'll be:
Mike: Older! Ha ha ha (oh, and hairy); successful
Susan: Happy, healthy, and strong

I will never forget the first time you:
Mike: Called me "Dad"
Mom: Got sick, threw up -- and I convinced you it was because Auntie Michelle Forte gave you McDonald's french fries

I love the little everyday things we do like:
Mike: Brush our teeth together every night
Susan: I eavesdrop on you and your dad when you say your prayers at night

As you grow up, James (Peanut, Giacomo-mo), my advice to you is:
Mike: Live life to the fullest -- no regrets!
Susan: Always be honest; respect yourself and others; and laugh -- a lot! 

We LOVE you wholly, with no reservation, with no condition. We respect you. We honor you. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SON.