Fourteen Years Old

Dear Tad,

Stop growing.  Or at least put a little meat on your bones.  I swear people are wondering if we bother to feed you, and they have no idea that you are actually taking THIRDS at dinner.  You are taller than I am, your voice has stopped cracking (mostly), and we have to make you shower every day.

To put it bluntly, you are a full-fledged teenager.

I know you don’t like it (you keep telling me that “puberty is HARD”), but you really are growing up and have gained so many good skills.  This has led to some very good things, like your increased independence at school this last year, and being comfortable with joining the youth group at church (though you’re not very keen to go on your own; you do prefer having your sister there with you).  But it’s also led to changes.  You are transitioning out of individual ABA services, and we are hoping to get you into a social group program – which I know you’re not looking forward to (though we are working on a couple of ways to soften the transition).  You were too old to go to summer camp with Rerun, so we had to find other things for you to do, like swim camp and art camp.  And sad things still happen, even when it’s hard to understand why, as you learned when you tragically lost a classmate to drowning this spring.

But life continues to pull us onward, Tad.  Loss and change are a part of life, and there’s no fighting it.  I wish I could protect you from those things, and keep you happy and safe in your own little Batcave.  But I can’t.  Time keeps marching on, and you are growing up, no matter how much you want to fight it.

However, I can’t tell you how many people are on Team Tad, buddy.  You have so many people cheering for you, praying for you, supporting you, wanting only the best for you.  You have the gift of making friends of people who you really need in your corner – I can’t tell you how many teachers and therapists you have charmed with your big smile, your engaging conversations, and your goofy ways.

And now you have a little more privacy and your own bedroom (although you are still getting used to this whole new set-up, and are still griping at me about the changes involved).  We wanted to give you a little more space for yourself, and I think you will really come to appreciate it very soon.

In the meantime, I would feed you cheeseburgers every day if you would just put on a little weight, but I’ve tried and so far, nothing has worked.  But I love you just the same, my tall, gangly, funny, silly, shark-loving, Batman-obsessed teenager who absolutely cracks us all up when you mangle words that you can’t pronounce correctly.

Happy 14th birthday, Tad!


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