Sunday, December 01, 2019

to campbell, on your 8th birthday

Dear Campbell,

This is your annual letter - its meandering, because I have so much to tell you, so much to remind you of, to say, so just bear with me as I try to recap your accomplishments and struggles, and the year as a whole... 

I'm not sure what happened this year... I'm not sure when you turned the corner or at what point -- maybe minute, second, week, day, hour -- you suddenly became a premonition of who you are going to become. All this week, I've looked at your mom and whispered, "Can you believe we are about to have an 8 year old?" and she just shakes her head. Because I think Year 7 has been the biggest year yet for you.

Let's recap a little, okay?

My favorite book so far this year was a book about 9/11, but your favorite is a four way tie between "Me and My Dad" and "Mighty Mighty Construction Site" and "Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site" and "Going on a Bear Hunt".  A four way tie because I've read all four of those books to you just about every single night since probably early spring, when you edged Jack B Ninja out of the rotation.  My book goal for the year is 50, and I'm only on 34, so I probably won't get there, but I plan on counting those four, if only because I've read them so much, I know them by heart. Can't tell you how many times I've literally recited "Bear Hunt" front to back to you in Wal-Mart.

"Avengers: Endgame" ended the 10 year long Marvel storyline at the movies, and I'm excited for you to get into these in the coming years. I also loved "Knives Out" and "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood", though I don't expect you to see either of those for a while. On that last one, a long while.

Can't tell you a lot about TV, honestly -- there are over 500 TV shows on the air this year, and I watch hardly any of them... though Disney+ dropped in November, and boy have we been feasting on "The Mandalorian" and "The Imagineering Story" and the quirky Jeff Goldblum show.  And you've enjoyed a movie or  two here and there...

President Trump is still there, and as I said last year, politics remains a nasty business. But Trump did sign a pretty great autism bill this year that will hopefully help you for years to come (having said that, I don't know all the specifics, but it seems solid).  My contention has always been that I want you to make up your mind on what you believe, but know why you believe it, not just taking an opinion off of a news network or social media platform as gospel.  Otherwise, let's talk about this when you are older.

So many friends this year. Seriously... sometimes I want to tell myself, "The teachers are just trying to encourage you by saying he has lots of friends", but no -- I've seen it in action this year and last.  The kids around you love you at school... maybe its because your hugs are indiscriminate, maybe its because your affection is unconditional, or maybe its because you like to smile and giggle and laugh all the time. Either way, I hope it never stops.

We got to go to birthday parties at soccer parks and trampoline parks and gymnastic parks and more, and of course, a class field trip to McWane Center, where you were all over that "Itty Bitty City" display and that play firetruck set up. And one of your buddies, Jack, was all over you -- it was so great to see it.

Our trip to Disney World in March was fantastic... the awesome Cast Member gave us a short wait time for your new favorite ride, Slinky Dog Dash (dude... you LOVED that attraction...) but man, that head banging thing was terrible. We were worried about you for weeks and weeks, watching you just suddenly bang your head on everything. We hope and pray that is a phase that never, ever comes back.

Your first horseback ride was last December, right after
you turned 7, but you loved it so much you did it
here too. 
Your year also included more swimming lessons with Ms Keri, and some over the summer with Ms Beca, horseback riding with Ady's Army events, lots of playground and park times, and even riding in a race car around a racetrack.  You saw your first movie in theaters -- "Toy Story 4" -- and by "saw" , I mean "you ran around until Mommy and GG finally had to take you out because you were running crazy.  You did, however, get to see your first symphony concert, and we gave you a little room to move... and you lasted the entire 30 minutes. GO YOU.

And wow did your musical side come out this year -- you're already playing piano, and your teacher Ms Alaina is sure that you can tell tone. Plus, as much as you love to sing, who knows what you can do with that!

Remember how I've told you before that you got into movies like "Rio" or "Cars 2"?  Well this year, it was Toy Story movies.  I think I've seen Toy Story 2 about 388 times this year... and you know what, that's okay too. And let's be clear... you liked the commercials off of the DVR recorded movies just as much as the movie itself. Hence your fascination with Fiji Water and Liberty Mutual (Ibah-tee Ibah-tee IBBAAAHTEEE) and Farmer's (We Ah Fahmah Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba) and so on.

Your talking has gone through the roof. I don't know how many words you have, but I daresay in the hundreds, maybe thousands by now. You can site read like a beast -- at the end of the year "awards", your teacher Bette Davis Eyes gave you one, saying, "This boy reads every word he sees, so the Best Sight Reading Award goes to... CAMPBELL!"  And your classmates cheered as you wandered up front, got your certificate that your mom and I gooed over while you were just Meh, and came back and finished your ice cream I got you.

You're reading is incredible. You read words I didn't know you'd even know... that's my fault, I should always assume that you know what is up, but forgive me for not giving you the benefit of the doubt sometimes. Of course, we still can't make you fully grasp the concept of "If you eat breakfast, we can leave. But you can't leave until you eat. This then that." but we'll get there, I'm sure.

Mitchell's Place will always be a part of our family, as it truly
changed your life, our lives, and the trajectory of our family. And Jordyn
and Audrey (and Piper too!) were a part of that.
You finally ended your tenure at Mitchell's Place, and it was difficult. We loved Jordyn and Audrey, they were amazing with you, and I know you loved them -- and all your MP gals, like Whitton and Glenda and Emily and Emil-I-E and Emma Leigh and I'm not making those up, there were that many Emilies.  You still ask to go there from time to time... maybe one day we can visit. Or you can -- if you are old enough to read this, you might even be driving by now!

Myself and your mom had to make some tough decisions about you this year too. We had two therapies in front of us, one recommended, one fairly new but had seemed successful with those around you... so after weeks of praying about it, seeking wisdom and counsel, we went with the new therapy. And kid, you are rocking it.

I've been there when you are answering open ended questions, giving answers that proved you were listening, even though you were running around the room Mach 3 with your hair on fire. Several of the therapists have had the same conclusion -- you are brilliant. You are more perceptive and smarter than any of us know or give you credit for, we just have to figure a way to bring that out. I'm confident we will.  It's your world, Campbell, we just get to live here.

You left your beloved Mrs Carnes (aka Bette Davis Eyes) last year in kindergarten and moved to 1st grade, with Mrs Coston, who you also love. You got some new classmates, but some from last year were still in your class. I know you love you some Lilly, as it's been awesome to watch you two play together at Next Levl park or when we all went to the pumpkin patch -- she even asked to sit with you on the way back, and just last week, she all but ditched the friends she was with to run with you at Next Levl.

And your new friend Hillary is quite awesome too -- she loves your attention, and she loves giving you the same, and it's no wonder you guys are fast friends. I hope this keeps up as you get older, and both Lilly and Hillary, and several others, will know that they are a part of your story as you grew.

Watching Hillary read to you was pretty amazing,
and it might have been a little dusty on that
porch that afternoon.

Your anthem this year has to be "In the Light" by DC Talk. See, you used to go to kid's choir, until you finally just grew tired of it -- but we got a CD to play in the car, which you just lapped up in every ride. But I decided to add a little more fun stuff to it, notably the "Sister Act 2" version of "Joyful Joyful" and "In the Light"... took you a little while, but you got into it... and now you sing "In the Light" all day.

We know that God's word does not come back void, so singing a song about a desire to forgo ourselves and be immersed in the goodness of Christ is surely not being sung in vain. Even when you get upset and then ask me to sing "IN DA WITE SING IN DA WITE" because it comforts you...

No kid, you don't get that when you've disobeyed.

Same with your mom and "HOUSA FUN SING HOUSA FUN" (which is a song called "Get a Little Crazy", where he takes the line "all in this together and we're having fun" and turns it into "Housa fun".)

Okay, let's wrap this up... in the last few letters, I started introducing some things I wanted you to know about, including "respect" and "truth". I want to tell you about "kindness" today. I've watched people treat you with such pure and loyal kindness this year, I want you to understand it and not take it for granted.

Kindness is treating someone with respect, no matter who they are and where they are, and perhaps treat them with understanding, care, and love.  Perhaps going above and beyond for someone in a way they wouldn't expect. Like saying hello to the kid by himself on the bench, or even playing with him. By not joining in when other kids make fun of someone, or even sticking up for that person. By helping out someone who needs a hand, even if it inconveniences you.

Being kind is the right thing to do. Truth isn't always kind, but telling the truth sometimes in the kindest thing you can do for someone. But don't let someone take advantage of your kindness -- if someone decides to abuse your kindness, then don't turn around and treat them with malice or anger. Just step back.  You should default to being kind to people, but hold strong to your convictions.

We love you very much.  Remember that Jesus loves you more than we ever could, though, and that he truly died for you and gave to you a gift that we could never match, and we always pray for you that one day you'll understand the gift of salvation.

Be respectful. Tell the truth. Be kind.  If you can do those things... continue to do those things... you'll be farther ahead than many people will get.

Eight looks awesome on you, Campbell Isaiah.

With love muchly,
Your Dad

Previous letters...
To Campbell, on your 7th Birthday
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