It's official. Today, we welcome our second teenager in this house. H has crossed that imaginary bridge from the tween years to the teen years. This is both exciting and intimidating. One teen has stretched us as parents in ways we'd never imagine and now we've got two. This one's a boy to keep us guessing even more. So maybe I'm freaking out a little, but I'm making peace with my freak out.
(I was able to freak him out pretty well when I announced that now he's only five years from legal adult age. Ha!)
We met H when he was just barely three. He was as cute as a little bug -- if the bug wore thick eyeglasses and an eye patch over one eye to help correct his Amblyopia. The first time he walked into our home, he was as inquisitive as ever. He must have inspected every inch of every room on the main floor, up close. Then finally, he spied the swing set in our backyard (it came with the house when we bought it). That swing set made him happy to be there and ready to move in a few days later.
He was our foster son for three years before we were able to finalize adoption. H has always been a social butterfly and has no trouble chatting with adults as easily as he does with his peers. He can be pretty pessimistic at times, but we've come to appreciate some of his negativity as part of his charm and personality. But he's always been sweet to his youngest siblings and definitely wears the big brother role with pride.
Now, he is thirteen. Here are thirteen things about the birthday boy so you can get to know him better...
1. He has a passion about all things Lego and has for most of his life. It started with Duplo blocks and has advanced to some of the craziest Lego sets out there. He also has a very specific organizational "system" for the Lego's that none of us understand.
2. While he struggles with physical activities that require a lot of coordination, he loves skateboarding and riding his bike -- two things his physical therapist thought he'd never learn how to do because of his sensory integration differences. He proved her wrong! And she was so happy about that!
3. He is an artist and creator at heart. Some of his drawings are incredible works of art and I can see him getting better and better over time.
4. He is by far our best reader in this house. He consumes books the way I'd consume chips and salsa if they were positioned just right in front of me right now (I'm hungry and two days away from the end of my second 30-day Paleo challenge). By the time he was in fourth and fifth grade, he was reading at an eighth grade level. Nobody ever told him he was classified as having a severe learning disability in reading when he was six.
5. He really desires being "good." Sure, we all have troubles staying consistently on the right path and especially at his age, but it actually hurts his opinion of himself when he goes offtrack. I see him working harder to please others and stay focused on what's good and right. He still struggles, but that just makes him what he is: human.
6. His favorite color for years was black. A couple years ago, he added yellow. Now when he's asked about it, he replies that his favorite color is rainbow! So even though he still walks with a dark cloud hanging over him, I believe his color preferences are indicating a brighter and more hopeful picture. The possibility of clouds parting and allowing more sunshine in on him.
7. He secretly likes hugs. I've always classified him as our least cuddly child. He's not big on physical touch. But in the past few years, he started coming to me at some point each day and asks if he can give me a hug. Then he smothers me with love. I've even spotted him hugging his siblings and his dad now and then. As he grows and matures, he's realizing that touching his family members is a nice thing sometimes.
8. He is our best encourager when it comes to attending church regularly. Sometimes, we make other plans for a Sunday -- a drive in the mountains or going up to Santa Fe. But it's H who usually convinces us that we can still go to the early service and do the fun thing afterwards. I like that he's dedicated to attending both Sunday services and youth group nights and events. Last year, he earned more towards his Bible camp fund than any other youth member because he simply showed up to every single fundraising event. That's dedication.
9. He is courageous. I give him tremendous props for his willingness to give the Paleo 30-day challenge a try. He overcame a lot of fears about new vegetables and demonstrated abundant self-control during those 30 days. Even though he's chosen not to stick with that plan indefinitely, I still see how it's impacted him and helped him learn to make better choices at snack and mealtimes.
10. Currently, he is our best child laborer in the house. He is usually first to volunteer for jobs I need done and he works hard to make sure the jobs are done completely. There are a lot of times when he'd prefer someone else to do the job and sometimes, I'll notice him holding back a few extra seconds to give someone else a chance, but usually, he comes forward with a willing heart.
11. His favorite subject is history. I can easily get him to learn about most any subject as long as it's presented in some form of history lesson. He has gotten so much out of our human study this year because I have included biographies and books about the history of medicine and such. He loves it. He remembers all kinds of random tidbits, too, which will someday help him on either a game show or as a conversationalist. He is the one who let me know that today is not only his birthday, but Ronald Reagan's (1911). I never realized that.
12. He is definitely a homebody. More often than not, when we plan our fun Sunday drives, he opts out and decides to stay home (if we give him the option). He is always willing to stay home with a younger sibling or two if we need and does a good job making them meals and keeping them safe while we are away for a few hours at a time. Of course, we miss him. But he's proven his trustworthiness in staying home enough that we allow him to remain comfortably at home on occasion.
13. He will make an excellent husband and father one day. I don't have proof of this, but I see him emulating C and trying to discern right from wrong and learn leadership skills every day. He cares about the women and girls in his life to a deep level and as he matures he is learning to be a gentleman. He volunteers in the children's ministry at church and usually works with the crazy preschoolers! He cares about family values and the love of family. I'm thrilled and blessed to be a part of this man in the making.
Make sure you visit my sister's blog, too, as she's done a special post about him for his birthday.
Happy Birthday, H. I love you. Let's survive these next years by working together as much as possible.