Friday, November 30, 2018

to campbell, on your 7th birthday

Dear Campbell,

You know, we do this every year. I always start out this letter by exclaiming first how old you are (SEVEN??) and then that we cannot believe you are that old (SEVEN??)... but it's so true. Your Mommy and I are in disbelief that out of nowhere, you are seven years old.

You know what this means, right?  This means that in 3 years, we're going to have to purchase you an adult ticket for Disney World.

But that's then. Let's look at now... and it just struck me last night, as I thought through what I'd write today, that this is the first birthday letter that you could actually probably read out loud.  I mean, you've only been reading maybe a year now, but your teachers tell us that you are on a somewhat advanced reading level -- you are learning words like crazy, you are reading things all the time, you are bending over toilets in public bathrooms, putting your hands on the rim, to read the manufacturers label on the back... so, let's not do that part okay? And even though we are in Whole Foods, that doesn't mean the toilet freshener hanging on the side is there to take off and hold.  Let's move on, kid.

The list of books you've read or enjoy reading is slowly growing, though I think "Me & My Dad" and "Me & My Mom" are your faves right now, as we read them to you every night... but "Jack B. Ninja" is closing in fast, as that's one you also want to hear daily.

As part of your learning and growing, it's been a big year for you!  You graduated from Mitchell's Place in July, reading out loud your favorite thing about MP ("Water play!"... or "wah pay!"), and looking dapper and awesome in your cap and gown. And then, we moved on to public school!

You started Greystone Elementary School in August, and out of myself, your Mommy and you, I think you were the only one who wasn't worried.  We should have known you'd have it taken care of, and you did. You adapted quickly, you made friends, friends who love playing with you, and you are doing amazing right now in school.

Your friend Jack making sure you don't run off during the class picture
I've been fortunate enough to see you around school, like going with you on the bus to the Pumpkin Patch, and to watch the boys -- Ahmed and Jack and Yoto -- all want you to sit with them, and to see the girls, like Lilly and Bella, talk to you and want to read to you before school starts. It's so great and an answer to our prayers!

And you love your teachers -- Ms Carns (because her name is Kim Carns, I still call her "Bette Davis Eyes", though that's a joke you won't get for like, 8 more years or so), and your helper Ms Allie and then Ms Lenoire, and then  the other teachers that I don't know because you say their names and we can't understand it.

As always, the year itself has been interesting.  I usually stay away from politics and will do so here -- by the time you get old enough to not just read, but comprehend these letters, we can discuss, but just know for now Trump is still President, and like any other before him, or that will come after him, he has his hits and misses, and his detractors.  Politics is an ugly game, and frankly, if you never get involved, I'm fine with it.

Like last year, I have paid little attention to the music scene... in fact, I just looked at the Billboard Top 100 charts for this week, right now in 2018, and I see the top songs are "Thank U, Next" by Ariana Grande, "Sicko Mode" by Travis Scott, "Happier" by Marshmello & Bastille, "Without Me" by Halsey, and "Lucid Dreams" by Juice WRLD... out of six artists mentioned, I have only heard of three of them, and am only familiar with one of those songs.  Music has passed me by, kid, as I'm still stuck jamming to "Exes & Ohs" by Elle King from a few years ago, which might be the last really good song that was released.

I am convinced that if you want a record deal and to make a lot of money as a musical artist, you can do so, because Cardi B is rich, and this guy named Mo Bamba has a hit called "Shack Wes", and its legit one of the most excruciating pieces of crap to listen to that I've ever heard. Then again, you may like it, who knows. When you are ready, we'll pop in some Hootie & the Blowfish.

For now, though, I think your own personal top five, as listed by songs that you sing over and over and over, are "Wheels on the Bus"... well, maybe top one. You have learned "Jesus Loves Me", and "Glory in the Highest", the latter for the kid's performance at the choir event coming up at church, but you do love you some "Wheels on the Bus".

And I do love that you are really recognizing church as the place to be, because you love being around Kingdom Kids, especially with Ms Lisa when she helps you. And for someone who struggles with saying the letter "L", you manage "Valleydale" okay -- "VAH AH DAYH".

Your favorite toys this year have undoubtedly been your school bus and your airplane, as you love Southwest Airlines so much that you watch airplane videos on YouTube... and you type in "SOUTHWEST" and "TERMINAL" in the search bar to find them.  It's crazy, and funny, and super smart.

And for whatever reason, you watch elevator videos. Like, you watch videos of people walking on and off elevators.  Your Mommy remarked to me, "Why do people film... elevators? That's so weird." Quite simply, people film everything. And yes, its weird.

My fave movies of the year included a documentary called "Won't You Be My Neighbor", about a man named Mr Rogers, who I can only hope you will be able to watch one day, and Tom Cruise still doing his thing in "Mission Impossible: Fallout", plus another superhero movie called "Avengers: Infinity War". I look forward to watching superhero movies with you, as well as Star Wars stuff (like "Solo" which came out in May of this year)... but your movie jam this year has definitely been "Inside Out".
Learning to float with Coach Mary

The old faves have resurfaced, like "Cars 2" and "Rio 2" and "Frozen", but "Inside Out" has been a daily mainstay in our home for months, which is cool because I think you are learning about Sadness and Joy and other emotions, maybe putting names to your feelings, which is important so you'll know how you are doing.

We had our season passes to Alabama Splash Adventure and went several times, and you loved it! Don't worry, we'll go back next year too. And good thing, because we need to keep working on your swimming. You had Ms Keri last summer, but this year, you got to work with Coach Mary... you didn't like it at first, but it was so cool that by the end of the week, you were getting rings off the bottom of the pool, and jumping into the water, and swimming around like a little fish. So proud of you!!

And the talking... my goodness, are you a chatter box. I can barely remember a time when we were worried you'd never talk, but here you are. Of course, admittedly, our worry now is that you won't be able to carry on a conversation with us, instead speaking in just a word here or there, but I have no doubt that will come in time too. Everything about your development has come in time, and that's been a blessing.

Oh, how much do you love your Mommy. SO MUCH.
You are still in piano, now with Mrs Alaina and Mr Mark, both of which you like very much, and are playing songs like "Old McDonald" and "Twinkle Twinkle", and even though you graduated, we still visit Mitchell's Place twice per week for ABA therapy.  And you get to work with Jordan and Audrey, and see your friend Piper!

Finally, some of the "firsts" for you... your very first trip to Vulcan... your first cave and waterfall (Rock City in Chattanooga)... your first Monster Truck (the Touch a Truck event)... your first bowling (you bowled like, an 88!)... your first traveling carnival (the power went out while we were atop the ferris wheel)... your first game of catch with a baseball and glove (thank you Ethan Bryan!)... 

Okay, I'll wrap this up now, as these letters might get longer and longer every year, and I'm sure I'm leaving stuff out... but know that we love you so, so much, Campbell.  Everyone does. Your Pops and GG, and your aunts and uncles, and your Granny Jan, and Aunt Becky and your friends and their parents too... you are more popular at 7 then I ever was at like, 10. You're doing a great job.

Last year's letter talked about "Respect".  This year, I want to teach you about "Truth".  Truth is very important because honesty is a huge part of your character, of who you are, and of who people think you are. Tell the Truth.

See, there are many people out there who don't. Maybe they are trying to hide something small, or something big, maybe they are trying to hurt someone else on purpose, or make someone else fail by not telling the truth, and that will happen... and maybe someday, someone will lie about you to hurt you.  You stick with the truth. You stick with what's right. You stick with the facts, whether you are talking to your mom and myself, or your friends, or your teachers, or even strangers, you stay on the side of right, and it will be okay.

Remember, the Bible is Truth. We haven't really dug into that yet, but we will soon. We want you to understand what Jesus says about love and compassion and that sometimes those things means saying things people don't want to hear -- but in the end, Truth will always win out. And be Respectful as you stay Truthful.

You'll always have challenges that other kids won't have. But keep your faith in Him and it will work out.

We love you, son. And no, you cannot have your iPad until 6pm, so stop asking.

With Love,

to campbell, on your 6th birthday
to campbell, on your 5th birthday
to campbell, on your 4th birthday
to campbell, on your 3rd birthday
to campbell, on your 2nd birthday
to campbell, on your 1st birthday

Heading to the doctor and getting the diagnosis


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