To Canton as you Turn 14

Dear Canton,

14!

Into the Woods of High School!

Oh time, it’ a funny thing. I so vividly remember pacing the floors with you at all hours of the night. As I cradled your tiny body in mine I would dream of your future, all along you had your own plans and were forging your own pathway.

As I write this, you are in your fourth day of COVID isolation and perhaps I am getting a glimpse of what life will look like over the next four years. I am missing you terribly while you are locked in your room texting me for grilled cheese and smoothies. But, the time is coming where you won’t need me as much. Then, there will be times when I won’t see you each day. Which makes me feel like I cannot even breathe, but such is life. It is such a blessing to watch you grow each day. It is no wonder I cry at the line “Children can only grow from something you love to something you lose.” You’ll never lose me though, I will always be here, happily supporting you from backstage now.

You should be so incredibly proud of the man you are becoming. You have a kind heart, a quick wit, and a contagious passion for the arts. When I look at you I see all the stages of you, the colicky baby, the curious toddler, the kind and brilliant tween, the creative and angst filled teen, I feel lucky to be your parent. Even when you ask me endless country trivia or relentlessly beat everyone at chess.

As you embark on this new chapter in your life, I want to remind you to always be true to yourself. Never compromise your values or beliefs for anyone else. You are so remarkably YOU! Don’t change yourself for anyone and always be proud of your true self. “Nice is different than good.” Outward appearance and politeness is different than inner character, you can be nice, always be good.

High school is a tough place to navigate. There will be bombed tests, broken friendships, heartbreak, competition, temptation, but it is also full of excitement and opportunity where you will become the person you are going to be. As you face these trials and tribulations remember that your successes give you confidence and your setbacks will build your character. Failure is part of living a full life. It is a shame we can’t forget our troubles like we forget our blessings. And you have many, ‘a brain in your head and shoes on your feet’, the ability to charm any person you meet. But most importantly, a family that loves you and will always be on your side. “No one is alone, truly. No one is alone.”

You were miserable with “Raise Your Voice” this year. Even though you wowed the audience and commanded the stage with “Agony”, “Sit Down You’re Rockin the Boat”, and “Beautiful City” you were so unhappy. A lesson you have learned on stage and will continue to learn throughout life is the power of teamwork and leadership. The characters of your life all come from different backgrounds and have different goals, but when they work together, they are able to accomplish things that none of them could have done alone, just think more Madagascar than JBMS. Remember to value your relationships with others and to always be willing to lend a helping hand. I saw you do it with your cast mates, running lines and coaching them, there is so much leadership in you. Just like a show, high school teaches us that life is full of challenges and setbacks. The characters of your story will face many obstacles on their journey through life, but never give up. Keep pushing forward, learn from your mistakes, every obstacle is an opportunity to learn and grow. Always remember that no matter what life throws your way, you have the strength and determination to overcome any obstacle. “Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor.”

I want time to slow down and you just want it to speed up. I know middle school has been so frustrating. “I’m in the wrong story!” Please try to be present in your own life. Life is full of frustration and desperation, it often can accompany longing for something that seems unattainable, a true love, an award, or even to change time. It reminds us of the importance of resilience and persistence in the face of adversity. “Agony! Beyond power of speech, when the one thing you want is the only thing out of your reach.”

Life is a story we tell ourselves, make sure you like the main character, and at least some of the supporting cast. Make friends. Take risks. Be kind to yourself. I hope you love yourself more and are kinder to yourself more than I was in high school. It was such a hard time, losing relationships, gaining new ones, it is just so hard. People will come in and out of your life in the coming years, but their impact will never be gone. “Sometimes people leave you halfway through the woods. Do not let it grieve you, no one leaves for good.”

Take ownership of your beliefs and your values and your power to make your future. Things aren’t always what they seem and leave room and grace for people to change. I’m always on your side. “Witches can be right, Giants can be good. You decide what’s right, you decide what’s good…”

“Wishes may bring problems, such that you regret them. Better that though than to never get them.” May you feel comfortable in taking risks and pursuing your dreams, even if they come with challenges, it is better than living a life of regret.

I hope that this birthday marks the beginning of a new, exciting, and fulfilling year for you. I can’t wait to see all of the incredible things you will accomplish and the person you will become.

I love you more than words can express, and I am so thankful for you. Happy 14th birthday, my dear boy. I’m always on your side and will be here to catch you when you fall. You will never ever disappoint me more than how much I will love you. Always. We are so proud of you! I’ll love you forever!!!!!!

Love you sunshine!
Love,

Mom