Over the past year, your defense helped your basketball team win a championship while going undefeated, you drew (and sold) comic books, you became a huge fan of Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Albert Einstein, read something like 20 books (and told Me all about them) and blazed through second grade with a straight-A average. But I also noticed you laughed less. Maybe I'm not funny (I doubt that) or maybe you're getting more sophisticated in your sense of humor or maybe it's that you're seeing the world around you in a larger context, and the joyful laugh of 6 has given way to the tight smile of--now--8.
It hasn't been an easy time for you, as the changes you saw last year have become a working pattern. You haven't said anything, but you were hoping the new house would make a difference. It hasn't. If anything, it seems as if the house has taken on a life and weight like that of a surly uncle, squatting through daily activities as a shadow. Sad to say, but there's nothing you can do about that.
You've started "tuning out" as a defense mechanism. It's not the best tool, but it's the only one you have at hand right now and I know that barring a miraculous leap in self-awareness that I never saw and don't expect, you'll simply perfect it and the cause of it will choose to blame Me rather than see and acknowledge who the real culprit is. That's okay, so long as you and I make sure you learn to use other tools equally well.
And that should be easy because you're learning that it is up to you to learn. You are trying to navigate the difficulties created by your home environment by tackling some of them head-on rather than waiting for them to keep pushing you. You see that school isn't the only teacher, that you can and must teach yourself. So now your questions range from history to science, from Spain's hero to Franklin's kite, from a meteor in Siberia to how metals are mined. You ask and expect an answer. I'm happy to say I've never stopped you from asking, no matter how many questions you come up with (and that I've almost never had to say "I don't know.")
This year, you face going to a new school, My expanded working schedule and I foresee--with deep sadness--that your closeness with your cousins will barely be a part of your 9th birthday, as their interests diverge from yours. At that point, you will be alone in a way that pains Me, and no matter what I do, that sense of loneliness will remain. When that happens, I'll do My part and I know you will do yours. I'm confident you will do yours better than I will deal with Mine.
Basketball season returns, We have the summer to swat baseballs and tennis balls, We'll go to the beach, We'll explore new places and new topics and ever so often, maybe when I least expect it, you will laugh. I hope We laugh often together, now and in the coming years. You're a wonderful boy, a wonderful son and may your laughter be generous and kind forevermore.
Happy Birthday, Kaleb. I love you.