A Very Happy 14th To My Dear Son, Jonathan

It is hard to believe that we have been blessed to have had you in our lives for fourteen years. Seems like just yesterday at times you were this little bundle of energy that only slept about 2 or 3 hours at a time who was constantly hungry. (Nothing much has changed in that department!)

You are my firstborn son, J., and to be quite honest, having a little boy to take care of threw me for a loop at first. I had no clue what to expect. You took me on an adventure of epic proportions during your years as a toddler and then pre-schooler. You gave me a different perspective on our world – the tree-climbing, knee-skinning, 100% daredevil world of little boys.

I remember when you went through your period of fascination with all things Harry Potter. You ate, breathed, slept everything Harry Potter. You knew every line of the movie by heart, and you would spend hours in the living room pretending to be Harry. Jumping off the couch with your wand, pretending to fly the broom, mixing up ungodly concoctions you called “potions” from things you found out in the yard.

It was about this time that I realized you were exceedingly special, and I attempted to figure out a way to harness the power of your energy and be able to bottle and sell it. We would be millionaires if I’d succeeded! You had a never-ending supply of “get up and go” in you, which caused me to fall into bed, utterly exhausted, more often than not.

Your love affair with animals started about the same time. If it wasn’t human, you were fascinated by it. I will never forget the utter joy and pure love that shone through your eyes the day your Dad brought home Little Ben for you. It was an instant love affair, a boy and his dog, and the two of you were inseparable. I know that it hurts you still – even after all these years – that the two of you were torn apart due to circumstances beyond our control, but know that Little Ben still loves you, no matter where he may be, and you will always and forever be “his boy.”

Before too long, it was time for you to begin school and what an adventure that was! Through all of the ups and downs, the homework temper-tantrums, the many phone calls home … your brilliant mind and abilities shown through. Once we found the right “fit” for you with Ms. Angie and the great teachers at Mechanicsville Elementary, your academic self just soared and you graduated with flying colors. Your dad and I couldn’t have been more proud of you than we were at that moment!

You have always shown a fascination with all types of weaponry, no matter the time period. I loved seeing you look at the weapons from olden days and examine them to see how they worked. It was a glimpse into your future talents that I don’t believe either one of us expected.

As your parents, Dad and I always thought you were talented and could do anything you set your mind to. You really surprised all of us, however, when you entered the talent show at school and totally rocked the evening doing covers of your favorite artists. You had the moves – and the voice – and totally nailed the competition that night! Your performance was just another shining example of the multi-faceted diamond that is your personality! Keep on rocking, J.!

For several years, all you asked to receive for Christmas was an XBox. Little did any of us know that that one particular gift would be the beginning of a bright and exciting future career for you. Your crazy mad skills in Call of Duty (and yes, the variety of your weaponry) have made you a contender in the Call of Duty circles to be reckoned with. I smile to myself every time I see the list of invites popping across your screen like mad popcorn – pop, pop, pop – of others wanting you to join their games and be on their team.

I cannot exactly say that I’m “thrilled” when you get into game-mode and forget all else in the world – like eating, drinking, sleeping, doing your chores, homework, talking to your mother … but I know that when you are “in the zone” you are an unstoppable force and I (sometimes) just leave you to it.

Your video montages and editing are da bomb, and I am supremely proud of your mad skills. I know there is a bright future ahead of you in the gaming industry, J., and I will be there to support you and stand by you every step of the way!

When you were younger, I sometimes worried that you would not grow into the well-rounded, caring, young man that I envisioned you to be. While we may not have always been able to give you everything you wanted in life, we have been able to provide you with everything you needed to survive.

Watching you grow over the years, going through the physical, mental, and emotional changes that come with growing into a teen from a boy, you have made me proud. You have overcome some huge obstacles, faced challenges and tackled them head-on, and my heart just bursts with pride at the young man that you have grown into, J.

When asked to accompany your aunt and I with your nieces and nephew to visit our Legendary Santa here in Richmond, you grudgingly obliged. While you playfully threatened to “blow the whistle” on us, you kept the dream alive for your cousins, and made their visit with us a magical experience and one I’m sure they will always remember. I think that, deep down, you secretly still believe too!

Now that you are older, instead of (always) fighting with your younger brother, you’ve become his champion and protector. You are the only one allowed to fight with him now (smiles). You constantly amaze me with your height (stop growing before you’re taller than I am!!!) and your maturity and your compassion. I love how you automatically assume the role of protector around those who are smaller, innocent, and incapable of defending themselves. I love your compassion and connection with all animals, big and small, and will do my best to get you a cat before you graduate high school. Well, if Molly allows it, that is!

We have weathered a lot of milestones this past year of your life, some of them life-changing. You have amazed me, astounded me, with your growth over the past year into the young man you are today. I cannot wait to experience this new year with you.

I love you with all my heart, J. I wish you the brightest and best year to come today and always. Happy Birthday son.

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