Letter to My Son (and a reminder to myself)

Here you are 12 years old; not a kid anymore and not a man.  But let's face it you look like you're 16. (Facial hair?  Really??) In some ways you act like it too.

Over the past few years you've had your struggled.  Mostly they have been academic and your father and I (as well as your grandparents) have tried to push you in the right direction and provided you with help.  Let me just say straight out that you ARE a smart kid.  Academically you may not be in the top percentage, but you've got the common sense smarts that are even more valuable.   And generally you use those smarts. Like looking both ways before you cross the street. You may think that doesn't involve smarts, but trust me is does.  There are plenty of "brilliant" minds that are so focused on academia that they don't have the sense/smarts to keep themselves safe.  Their brains are wired differently, as is everyone's.  And it's important to know your strengths and to use them to your ability and advantage.

 As your mom, despite what I might have said, I wanted to see you get straight As in every subject.  I knew it wasn't realistic, but it's what I wanted to see.  Here in the "real world" (vs what mom wanted to see) you have your challenges when it comes to certain subjects (I'm looking at you French,  Math and Literacy?).  We've tried to provide you with tools so that you can do your best.  There have been tutors. There has been extra help after class.   There has been Huntington Learning Center (which I know you really don't like and at this point I've got to wonder if it's helped all that much at all and not just emptied our pockets.)  Your grades are still not where I would like them to be.  But what I need to realize, is that it's not about ME it’s about you. (You can remind me of that too!)  And what I want you do to, and what I will continue to push you to do, is to do your best.  I'm not giving up on that and you shouldn't either.  I know it can be discouraging when you study and get extra help and then test results don't reflect it.  If it depresses me, I know it upsets you.  But you need to keep trying...and we need to keep working with you and doing what we can to help you reach your fullest academic potential.  Even if that DOESN'T mean As and Bs.  You need to keep trying and fulfilling your end of the education bargain.  And as parents we're going to push you to do so.  If you think you were going to get a pass or we were going to give up...not going to happen. 

But life is more than about grades (even though it might be hard for me to say that).  You have other strengths and to be a "success" in life (whatever that may look like), you need how to use them to your advantage.  USE your strengths, but DO NOT abuse them. 

So what are your strengths?  One of the most obvious ones is your looks.  You are a handsome fellow.  You were blessed with good looks.  So I encourage you to use your looks.  (Again, I say USE and not ABUSE).  You have a warm and welcoming smile; so use it.  A warm and friendly smile can brighten up the darkest of days.  Smile as often as you can.  Smile not just with your mouth, but with your whole face.  An honest and heartfelt smile will take you further than you might ever imagine. 

While looks are a genetic advantage you have been given, as you know, they mean nothing without a kind heart.  I think you were born a kind person.  I know as parents we've tried to foster that.  I'd like to think that we've all succeeded.  You are a good person 99% of the time and that's one heck of a strength in life!  There's that 1%...but hey you are a tween boy!  So all I ask is that you continue to be a good person 99% of the time.  Look out for others.  Care for others. Help others.  THINK of others.  As I know you have learned, treat others as you would like to be treated.  Or even better, treat others BETTER than you would treat yourself!    Think before you speak and act.  (This is something I still need to work on; and you might need to GENTLY remind me of that...remember none of us is perfect.)  Be the good person that I know you are; it WILL take you far in life and even more important it will make not just your world a better place but the whole world a better place.  (This world needs all the help it can get.  The little ripples you make in life can have far reaching consequences.)

 You have artistic and musical talents that I envy.  Hone those skills; as I don't think you realize how gifted you really are in those fields.  You have been blessed creatively.  And in ways that most people are not. When I ask you to practice your trumpet, it's because I know that while you are good without practice you can be GREAT with it.  The same thing goes for your drawing ability, which will only improve if you allow yourself to pick up that pencil on a more regular basis. (And PLEASE don't throw away your "failures;" I treasure them and your "not so good ones" are a million times better than anything I could ever do.)  Additionally, you have an eye for making things work well together.  It might be clothes or it might be how you arrange things in your room.  Your sense of style and decoration rivals that of a professional and you're not even a teen yet!  

 I have listed just a few of your strengths, as you continue to grow and learn, I know that many, many more will come to light.  I need you to know that too.  Never doubt your abilities; work with them and you will have a rich and fulfilling life. 

Love, Mom


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