Friday, December 01, 2023

to campbell, on your 12th birthday

 Dear Campbell,

I don't understand the math, but somehow you are 12 years old today. You were born in 2011, so if I used all of my fingers, plus two more, counting to this year... yep, 12.  Wow.

So, I read my letter from last year, and I sort of cheated you out of a good note, and for that I'm sorry. I didn't take the time you were owed to share my thoughts with you - I apologize, kid.  So let's hope this one is a little better.

It's been one crazy year - they all seem to be - and maybe I'll say the same thing year after year, but you have grown so much. Your vocabulary is grown by leaps and bounds, not only in what you say, but what you spell out - your thoughts on kindness, on Jesus, on faith, on your love for us and understanding how much we love you... it's mind blowing. 

Lot of growing up for you too this year... finally, at Alabama Splash Adventure park, you got to ride the roller coasters by yourself... I asked you, "Do you want to ride by yourself, or do you want me to ride with you?" you'd say quickly, "By myself."

Your independence is coming, dude. I feel it. 

Of course, I still love the fact you like hanging out with me. Our weekly Saturday afternoon adventures are always memorable, and something I look forward to - our weekly stops at the Joyful Bakery, at Whole Foods, sometimes a Wal-mart, occasionally the mall, and of course, "Homewood Target".  Why? "The elevator!"  You sit in the cart, I wheel you around and get my own steps in, we look at Thomas stuff, books, clothes, Legos, and everything else in our Target trip... though admittedly, soon, you'll be too big for the cart and will be walking everywhere.  Your mom is feeling that now while you are in Disney World with she and GG, because even though we get you the special needs stroller that is larger, it can only hold you for so long.  So, kid, be prepared to walk everywhere soon... though if I'm honest, I think that's what you'd prefer anyway. 

Let's talk music... a few services like Spotify have this thing where they tell you the artists you listen to the most - we don't do Spotify, but we do Apple Music, and I gotta be honest, it's a little annoying because it's all YOU dude.

I mean, seriously. I'm not listening to 
"Rolling in the Deep" 281 times without
some sort of outside coercion
(Pardon me, Campbell, while I explain to the audience what I mean... so each night, as part of our bedtime routine, we listen to music as we get him ready for bed.  Campbell has picked the playlist, and while the first song has rotated some -- we've had Morgan Wallen's "Last Night" and "Before He Cheats" from Carrie Underwood and "Africa" by Toto and Harry Style's "Satellite" to name a few, we are currently on Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know"

The other three songs are staples... "Levitating" by Dua Lipa, featuring the rap by DaBaby, which I of course have to sing... I'm not kidding, it's his request... and then "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele... and finally, "How to Save a Life" by The Fray.  After music, we do our Bible story, but 1 or 2 times per week, we skip the story and do a fifth song, "Your Song" by Elton John.  I like that one, because I get to sing the line "you are the sweetest kid... I've ever seen...". Then we turn out the lights, say our prayers, and go to sleep)

So, because of your songs every night, my Top Ten played was dominated by YOUR music... including "Rolling in the Deep", "Levitating", "How to Save a Life", "Break My Heart" by Dua Lipa (also originally on the rotation before being moved out), and "Your Song".  We have to get to the 9th song on the list before we get to a song that wasn't or isn't on your list - "Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry.  Which you'd like that one too if I'd let you have a 6th song. 

ALL that said... I LOVE that you love music. I love that you love piano, that you listen to everything, that you enjoy dcTalk as well as Taylor Swift as well as Elton John, and even some Will.I.Am, though thats from the "Rio" soundtrack.

Your movies this year?  After a year or two of not paying any attention to it, you cycled back to "Rio 2", which has become almost a daily watch... this, of course, was after a few months of daily "Encanto", which followed a few months of daily "Moana", and it's still fun to not only hear you sing the songs, but actually quote lots of dialogue.  

TV? You're still all about GameShow Network, loving you some Cash Cab and Family Feud and American Says ("host John Michael Higgins!") and People Puzzler and much more, though you'll settle in with your mom on the couch and watch Hallmark... granted you have your iPad in hand, volume on, snuggled up so close to her you are almost under her, which led her to start using captions on the TV, but still. 

Okay, last thing before I go... I want to offer you some advice as you grow and finish your elementary school career and head to middle school next year... Campbell, always let kindness carry you. Always.

One of the things we’ve really picked up on this year is your empathetic nature, which is going to be a blessing, and a curse as you grow up. You’re ability, your nature to take on the pain of others, and to feel what they feel, is a remarkable trait that not many people have. As you live your life, you’re going to be able to see and hear things, and know things about people that some other people will miss because they’re just not feeling the emotion of those around them. And God is going to use that gift tremendously to show compassion and care to so many people.

However, middle school is coming, and it’s going to be a gauntlet. This isn't to scare you, but to just remind you that it's something your mom dealt with, I dealt with, nearly all adults have dealt with... it can be wonderful, it can be fun, as you'll meet new people and make new friends and have new adventures that you've never had a chance to before... but it can also be hard.

But let kindness carry you. Not just in middle school, but everywhere you can. In every possible case, don’t just be nice, be kind. 

Sometimes that means saying or doing things that aren’t popular because it's the right thing, the kind thing to do.

Sometimes that means sticking with people who aren’t the best people in many other eyes because that's where kindness carries you. 

But kindness also doesn’t mean to roll over and let people walk all over you. As I've told you before, I want to prepare you for the fact that there are people out there who are just... well, mean. Doesn't mean Jesus doesn't love them - He does. Doesn't mean that we shouldn't love them - we should. But it also doesn't mean we have to like them or be around them.  We don't. 

As you grow up, you’ll have to discern when to stand and when to back down. 

Stick up for those people around you who cannot fight for themselves. Stick up for yourself. And hold close to those friends who will stick up for you. You have an army of older folks, parents, teenagers, friends who would be willing to fight every battle for you they can… But none of us can be there all the time. 

I want to remind you, it won’t be easy. But, I am there for you. Your mom is there for you. Your friends are there for you. And God will always be there for you in a way that none of us ever can be. 

Finally, Campbell, we live in a crazy world, a world where somebody who believes one thing gets super mad at somebody else who believes something different. 

 Campbell and his mom, taken not
long before I published this post. 
He loves Disney World SO MUCH
Our family believes in the death, and risen life of Jesus Christ,  and in that sacrifice, our sins, our bad deeds are covered. Everything we’ve ever done before, everything we ever will do, is covered under the sacrifice of Jesus.  Knowing you have accepted Jesus in your heart is a beautiful thing to us, an answered prayer from the day you were born.  

But there are many people out there who don’t believe that, and while we know and are positive of what we believe in, it is important to remember that we should never make fun of, or treat badly those who believe something different. 

No matter what people believe, they deserve respect. 

Sometimes people will treat you with disrespect, and you just walk away.  Jesus is in your heart and He will be there for you, that I can promise you. 

Okay, I've rambled on long enough. 

I love you so much, more than you can possibly imagine, and I pray every day that your mom and I can be good examples for you as you grow up - I hope you see and feel the love we have for you at all times. 

It's your birthday today, and your mom tells me you were enjoying a birthday burger at Sci-Fi Cafe in Hollywood Studios today, and honestly, it kinda made me a little sad that I wasn't there with you today. But I promise you, we'll enjoy a good meal on your birthday next year.  Of course, you'll be 13 and probably won't want to hang out with me because I'm not cool enough, but I'll try anyway. 

Your mom loves you, your GG and Pops love you, your aunts and uncles and cousins love you, your Granny Jan and PawPaw Randy love you - and Jesus loves you more than all of us put together, times a bajillion.  And that's a lot, my friend, a lot. 

I'll see you in a few days when you return home! 

Love always,


"to campbell on your 11th birthday" link is at the beginning of this post... here is the link "to campbell on your 10th birthday", and the rest of the letters are at the bottom of that post...