A boy insulting another boy is not the end of the world

tl;dr Boys are way different than girls and aren’t little meanies because they call another boy a name

Raising a son is hard. And I have to say that raising a son as a single mom or a mom with no help from dad is probably the hardest thing that can be done as a parent today because there are so many societal “norms” that are being applied to young boys that sometimes letting a boy’s natural character out means that he’s in some way a problem child. I am not complaining about raising a son in any way, shape or form. Instead I am saying that raising a son can be challenging, particularly when the natural character of a boy is at odds with what a parent, or society in general, deems appropriate.

The reason I say this is because of an incident I learned about today involving my son. He has had his share of scraps and run-ins this school year, and has been spoken to quite a bit for behavior and behavior related issues. To me, this is to be expected for an eight year old boy. Hell, when I was his age I was doing much of the same stuff he’s doing today. Pretty much every boy in my school was. I think that’s because, in general, boys have a way about them that is unique to boys. We are loud, aggressive, forward, vocal, sometimes condescending, sometimes domineering, sometimes mean and sometimes rude. I am not saying these are all good qualities. I’m just saying, put a group of boys (or men) in a room and in a short amount of time you will see all of these qualities manifest in some capacity among the males in the room.

As boys, we know this. We live this. We expect this from other boys. And because of that, we, as boys, challenge the norms that we are faced with (that is another quality of boys). When we see a boy that might be bigger, stronger, smarter, faster… our inclination is to establish dominance over that boy. We do that in various ways, from hurling insults to competing in sports to physically dominating another boy. And sometimes, as a stronger, smarter, faster boy, we are challenged by another boy trying to establish dominance of his own. Again, this is not only understood among boys, it’s expected. And how we as boys handle these situations begins to identify us among our sphere of influence. This process begins at a very young age and continues for most, if not all, of a man’s life. To understand this concept, observe a group of guys enjoying drinks and talking. How long does it take before one of the guys insults one of his friends, calls him a name or challenges his manhood? How long does it take for a man to establish his own amazingness by telling stories of his work, or how he handled a situation with a coworker, or how he handled something with his kids? It is the way we are with each other.

The incident that my son was involved in went like this… he was playing a game of Mercy with another boy. When the other kid lost, the kid began to whine about it to which my son replied “Stop being a little girl”. Now to those that don’t understand boys, this might come across as rude, condescending or even bullying. To those of us who grew up on the playground, we know this is a way of establishing presence and dominance among our peers. While I am not excusing the conduct of my son, I think it needs to be stated that among boys, games of strength and bravado always come at a cost in that there will inherently be a winner and a loser. In both the winning and the losing, there is a way to conduct yourself that is honorable among other boys. There are also ways to conduct yourself that are less than honorable among boys. So when a boy behaves in a way that is “dishonorable” among the group, it is natural for another boy to call him on that. This happens quite often in regular daily activities of a lot of men (and women, too, but probably not in as pronounced a way as with the guys). Again, I am not saying it is right or wrong, I am merely saying that this is to be expected, particularly among boys.

In the case of my son and his behavior, it is easy to look at him and say he was being mean or bullying the other boy. Personally, I think that’s a load of crap. Bullying, to me, would be something like my son seeing another boy, that he isn’t close with, wearing a pink shirt or sporting long hair and, out of nowhere, approaching him with a “What are you, a girl?”. To me, that is not only bullying but completely unacceptable behavior. It is unwarranted, unmerited and totally inappropriate. But in the case of two boys playing a game of strength and one boy losing then whining about it, to be derided for it in some way, to me, is not bullying. It is playground politics. It’s the same playground politics that say if we’re playing dodgeball and I know you can’t catch, you’re the target I’m throwing at. It’s the same playground politics that say if we’re playing tag and you’re the slow kid, you’re getting tagged first. And it is also the same politics that say if you’ve handled being the slow kid, getting tagged and not being able to get out of it while still being cool about it, you’re probably gonna end up being tight with a couple of dudes that will make sure you are never tagged.

Now moms, this is for you: boys and girls are different in many, many ways. How we feel things is different. How we respond is different. But trying to make your boy understand things from a girl’s perspective – or even YOUR perspective – will more than likely not work most of the time. While your boy may nod at you and say “yes momma, I understand”, the chances of it sticking with him are pretty slim. This is because you can never really take the character out of the boy. You can punish it, discipline it… even make him feel bad for it. But ultimately his character will continue to shine through – good or bad – and he will do what he will naturally do. If you are a single mom raising a son, or if your son’s dad isn’t as involved as he should be, please know that your best bet as his parent is to lead, coach and teach your son how to manage his boyness. Don’t condemn him for being what he naturally is. Don’t try to stifle his character or shut it down, but instead find creative ways to let that character of his flourish. No, that isn’t easy, but it is much less frustrating and much less likely to cause resentment from him later on life.

The Charge of the Light Brigade

When the movie “The Blind Side” came out my wife and I went to see it. While I loved the story line of the movie, and the character portrayals in it, there was a subplot to it that really stood out to me.

In the movie, Michael Oher, the character on whom the story is based, was tasked with reading and dissecting an Alfred, Lord Tennyson poem called “The Charge of the Light Brigade”, a poem written about a band of soldiers in the 1850’s that literally rode into the face of death at the command of their superior even though he had made a mistake. They knew they were going to die, they knew it was going to be painful, they knew it was a lost cause. Yet they rode, because that is what soldiers do. Their role as soldiers gave them no latitude to question the motives or commands of their superior. They had pledged to follow him and his orders, and do that they did.

There is a story about life in this. There is also a story about parenting, marriage, education, work and every other aspect of your life that can sometimes catch you up in stress, anger, frustration or doubt. At the end of the day, whatever your role is – be it husband, father, president, stock clerk or son – you have a responsibility to fill that role with every ounce of your being. That is what those soldiers did. And that is what I choose to do daily.

I am currently embroiled in one of the greatest challenges in my personal life that I have ever experienced. To that end, I am resolved to do what’s right wholeheartedly throughout the entire ordeal. I absolutely need to. My wife needs me to. My kids need me to. My friends need me to. I need me to. Challenges, battles, sorrow and loss come. It happens. The true test of a man’s character, as I see it, is not his ability to handle those times but the manner in which he handles himself during those times. When faced with certain loss, certain death, certain pain, will you press on anyway?

The Charge Of The Light Brigade
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Written 1854

Half a league half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred:
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay’d ?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die,
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d & thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turn’d in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack & Russian
Reel’d from the sabre-stroke,
Shatter’d & sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse & hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder’d.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

Borrowed from http://www.nationalcenter.org/ChargeoftheLightBrigade.html

If, by Rudyard Kipling

Some things come at you hard and fast, and hit you in the face like a rush of ice cold water on a hot summer day. Others wrap their arms around you and tell you it’s going to be ok while coaxing you into a peaceful calm. Still others reach into the very core of who you are and add value – strength, courage, determination, resolve – to an otherwise broken and fragile being. This poem, by Rudyard Kipling, is one of those that just encourages and strengthens me.

If
Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

If you are interested in learning more about this poem or would like to socialize and connect with folks who have delved deep into this piece, check out All Things If, a blog dedicated to this poem.

Why I disabled my Facebook account

Thinking of disabling my Facebook account. It is entirely too easy to not talk to my wife in lieu of reading her wall. #stupidfacebook
6:10 PM Oct 3rd from web

@RobertGonzalez

A couple of weeks ago I disabled my Facebook account. I also audited some of my accounts on other social networking sites and either disabled those or deleted them altogether. I have also started to cull my following list on Twitter.

So what prompted these actions, you might ask? The honest answer is… my marriage.

It became clearly evident, shortly after my wife joined Facebook, that my use of social networking was becoming a huge problem for us. What made this so evident was how easy it became to converse with my wife over wall posts and post comments as opposed to real conversations. We stupidly sat in the living room together, commenting on each other’s wall posts and replying to each other’s comments. And when we weren’t communicating with each other on Facebook we were ignoring each other altogether as I sat and Twittered or posted to my Facebook friends’ walls and my wife did the same thing with her Facebook friends.

The saddest aspect of all this was that I had never seen that I was doing this until I saw my wife doing this with me. She joined Facebook in June, and while she has only been on it for a couple of months I have been Facebooking for years. I have been Twittering for over a year. I have been keeping up with people through their blogs for years. I have been involved in forums for almost six years. If you look at it, I have traded relationship with my wife for interaction with strangers for upward of six years.

I chose to make myself available to people I would never meet, in whose lives I would really never have any meaning and whose lives really had no significant meaning to me while at the same time choosing not to put any time, effort, energy or expressed interest into the one relationship that should have taken the highest priority in my life. I have made many connections with other women, some married, some unmarried, and have put myself in a position of “caring friend” to them. And while I am sure that these women needed a caring friend I should not have been that friend. My wife needed that caring friend just as bad as the next lonely woman, she needed me more than any other person could have needed me, yet I never took the time or had the inclination to offer myself to her.

Facebook, Twitter and all the other social networking sites… even email, allowed me to spend time I should have spent with my wife, with someone or something else. I spent time getting to know other people. I spent time building relationships with complete strangers. I spent time spending time apart from my wife, even when I was within physical proximity to her.

The truth is, anything that allows a married couple to not spend time with one another while harboring an air of developing relationships with others is just plain bad for your marriage. Facebook definitely fits into this category. So does Twitter and every other social networking site.

By their nature, social internet networks are designed to bring people together with or for a common cause or idea or ideal. While this is not a bad thing, in my opinion, it is terrible if you are substituting a real relationship for virtual ones. Yes, I was doing that. No, that can never be good for your marriage. And no, it wasn’t good for mine.

Your spouse should be the most important person in your life. And if your intimacy and relationship with your spouse is suffering then you need to do whatever you can to feed it. In my case, I needed to starve my Facebook relationships and Twitter relationships in order to feed my marriage. And I’d do it again if the need ever arose.

So you may notice that every couple of days my “following” count on Twitter goes down. If I currently follow you and then one day I am not following you anymore, understand that my marriage has to come first. It is nothing personal. I just need to protect my marriage.

And will I ever make it back to Facebook? I don’t know. For now I am sticking to the idea that I am only gone for the time being. How long that time is depends entirely on how long it takes me to feed my marriage, which has starved for far too long. I may never make it back on there. And if I don’t, I’m fine with that. To me, what is most important is that my marriage is nurtured and that my wife knows, without a doubt, that she is so much more important to me than some website.

Until then, if you really have to keep up with what is going on with me, my family or things that I notice around me, you’ll just have to come here to find out if I have mentioned anything. But you can be certain of one thing: I am pouring myself into my marriage now like I used to pour myself into Facebook, Twitter and every other thing I let take the place of my marriage.

For the men: If you notice your marriage starting to take a downward turn take a look at what you might be spending your time on other than you marriage. Your marriage is your most important relationship you could foster. Make sure to treat it that way. Your wife needs your gentleness, intimacy, strength, your concern and your heart. Give it to her, gladly, and sacrifice whatever else you need to in order to allow your marriage to flourish.

For the women: Though I feel horribly unqualified to tell you anything as a man, I can tell you that when it comes to your marriage, your husband needs to know that he is the most important person to you just as much as you need that from him. Pay attention to what you are putting your heart into and where your time is being spent. Your husband needs your intimacy (not sexual intimacy but emotional intimacy) like you need his. Be cognizant of this, and be ready to offer to him whatever you can to show him he is just as important to you as you know you are to him.

The sweet taste of progress

Three months ago , at the request of my doctor, I took a blood test to measure my overall health and the results of that test were alarming to say the least. Since then I have been working very hard to curb my sugar and sodium intake and, after I received the results of the blood test I took today, I have to tell you I am pretty excited this time around.

The main item I was concerned with was my blood sugar, which last time around was a staggering 142. This time it was down to 105 which is an enormous gain in my opinion. Yes, it is still over 100, but not by much, and it is significantly lower than it was just a few months ago. So I am confident that three months from now my blood sugar will be well under control.

The lab test items that I thought were significant improvements on this lab over the last lab where:

Prior lab results vs. today’s results
Test Standard Last time This time
Glucose, Fasting 60 – 99 mg/dL 142 105
Triglycerides <199 mg/dL 151 73
Cholesterol <239 mg/dL 188 154
HDL >40 mg/dL 42 43
LDL <129 mg/dL 116 96

All in all, in the core category areas of concern, I have made significant improvement. No, I am not at all close to being “done” improving – I still have a family to stick around for 😉 – but I am very happy with what has transpired over the last three months.

I am also excited about the physical transformation I am undergoing. I have lost just over 30 pounds in this time, have dropped six inches in my waist and about six inches in my chest. I am feeling better about me, about my health and about how much longevity I may be adding to my life. Not to mention that I have an indescribable desire to exercise.

I am looking at different exercise plans that I can do at home right now because I would love to take advantage of this momentum I have developed. I know that coupling exercise with my current sugar-free, low sodium, lower calorie diet will have extraordinary results to say the least. But really excites me is that I can attack my health issues from two different angles: diet and exercise.

I think doing it this way will position me for a longer life, which means more time with my wife and kids overall. And lower life insurance premiums. Which means more savings. Which means I might just be able to afford that motorcycle I have been wanting so very badly.

And seriously, have you ever seen a really fat guy jamming down the highway on a sport bike? Me neither.

For the men: If you are fat (be honest with yourself on this), start working to lose some weight right now. Don’t wait. You owe it to your wife, your kids and yourself. And I can say with 100% certainty that your wife will undoubtedly love being able to be closer to you. 😉

Bite your tongue

Sometimes you just need to not say whatever it is you are planning (or even not planning) to say. For most folks this goes without saying. For many, however, the words that come flying out of your mouth are words that should not have even been thought, let alone released.

I say this as a man that has yet to learn his lesson with controlling his tongue. Too often I will allow myself into a place where my perspective, my own opinion clouds the moment I am in. I allow myself to stop listening intently to the other person and begin to develop my response before the other person is even done talking. What’s more, the words that I formulate in my head are often not appropriate for the conversation or for the edification of the person with whom I am speaking. Have you ever experienced that?

I don’t have any concrete examples that I am willing to share, but there have been occasions recently in which I was talking with someone and as I spoke it became clear to me that what I was saying was really not at all empathetic to the other person. Really what I was doing was trying to make myself heard over the conversation without listening to what was being spoken to me. How awful that must feel for those that I communicate with. Imagine speaking from your heart and laying it all out there just to have the person with whom you are speaking respond with something completely out of context because he/she felt it was necessary to pour their own feelings, their own opinions into the conversation without a need, really, to do so.

There is a lesson in this for married men. If you are ever talking with your wife and you feel the need to reply in haste or if you have already begun to develop a response to something she has said before she is finished talking, it is a sure sign that what you are about to say would be better off left in your brain. Specifically, as it relates to marriage, it would seem to me that as men, we should want to be able to communicate with our wives on their level of communication. What that means, essentially, is actually listening to her words, and her heart, as she speaks and really trying to empathize with her as she pours herself out to you.

I think sometimes that we as men are so quick to defend ourselves or provide our own spin on things that we lose sight of what is really important at that moment: understanding the person that you are conversing with. Truly, how can we ever really understand someone if we cannot unplug our own opinions and ideas for just a brief moment to really try to see it their way?

Just throwing this out there, for those that are not scared off by a challenge: the next time you have already prepared your response to someone that you are talking with before they are done talking, or before you respond out of your own perspective or opinion, bite your tongue, stop and think for just a second about what they just said, then try to feel it for yourself as they have described it. You might be amazed at what you can learn from someone when doing that.

Working works

Today I had to be accountable. This is something that I should be doing anyway, but it just had to be done today. And the coolest thing is that it allowed me to reap a grand harvest.

Today my wife and daughter had a scheduled outing. This meant that I had a morning home with my four other kids. It also meant that the promise I made to handle some of my “honey do” list items needed to be honored.

So I set out this morning to fetch some things I needed for some of the fixes and such that I needed to make today. I bought wooden stakes, some light bulbs, light switches, light switch plates, nails, a rake, some duct tape and some Vaseline. Ok, I didn’t buy duct tape and Vaseline. 😉

I got home from the store and made some breakfast and got started. And I worked it. Hard.

I trimmed the bottle brush trees on the side of our driveway. I raked the little patch of yard below the bottle brush. I trimmed some street level bushes. I trimmed a bush in the tan bark patch near my garage. I straightened up that tan bark. I pulled some weeds in the yard. I removed some dead bushes to clear a path for living plants to grow. I fixed some bender boards in the back yard. And I replaced two switches in my kitchen that needed to be replaced.

Do I tell you all of this to tempt you to pat me on the back? Not at all. I tell you this because I really, really didn’t want to do it. But I had made a promise to my wife that this weekend I would take care of some of the things that she has been waiting a very long time to be handled. She has been exceptionally patient, and very gracious, and I have been very nonchalant in my promises. It was time. She had waited long enough and I had gone back on my word long enough.

Men, there is a lesson in this for you. If you tell your wife you are going to do something, do it. Don’t whine, don’t make excuses, don’t not do it. Just get it done. My wife was very appreciative of me taking care of these things. And I was happy to do them. I didn’t want to actually do these things. But I wanted to show my wife that I am her man, that when I say I am going to do something I do it, and that she means enough to me to be honest and accountable to her.

Yeah, it was only a little fixing up and cleaning up here and there. But it allowed me to cross a few things off the list of things that need to be handled. And it also allowed me be a man to my wife. I love doing that.

And you want to know a wonderful side benefit to all of this? I lost four pounds today. How awesome is that? Heck, I may just spend all winter doing some kind of physical on the weekends. It’s almost like a trip to the gym without all the meat heads, gym rats and expensive memberships.

Happy 13th birthday Sarah

Today my oldest child, my daughter Sarah, turns 13 years old. And I am so not sure what to do with that.

I can remember vividly the moment she was born. How she looked when she came into this world, how small she was and soft she was. I remember her trip home from the hospital and how we spent every minute of the first 15 months of her life parenting right out of the books.

I remember when she started walking, talking, learning, growing. I remember when she learned to ride a bike, when she got her ears pierced for the first time, the first time she spent the night at a friends house, the first time we left her home alone for a few minutes to jaunt to the store.

Most recently I can remember her developing into a young woman, changing physiologically, getting super tall, looking older. 13 years passed me by in about three paragraphs.

Where does that time go? When you have as many kids as I do time does move pretty quick. Anyone that tells you a minute is a minute never had a house full of kids. But 13 years? I mean, they just started last week it seems. And no sooner did I take her out of diapers than I am preparing her for high school, her first work for money and the prospect of driving lessons in a few years.

I am a blessed man to have the children I have. Each of them is independent and individual, and each has their own unique quarks, personalities and characteristics that personifies who they are. Sarah is an outstanding musician. She can play just about any stringed instrument and can readily learn the tune for a song on the piano in a matter of seconds.

She is a drama queen. Not like your usual kicking and screaming, throwing a tantrum type drama queen (not that she hasn’t done that before) but the kind that loves the stage, theater and acting. She has an amazing sense of humor, sometimes bordering on gross or dry, but always funny and always well past her age level.

She has a keen eye for fashion and designs dresses whenever she has the time to doodle in her journal. She also loves to work on her comic strip “The Robinsons” from time to time, showing a sense of humor and wisdom well beyond her years.

And the characteristic that I love about her the most, one that the entire family is blessed with daily, is her ability to belch like a longshoreman. There is not a person on this planet that can rip ’em like Sarah can. I love you for that baby. 😉

Seriously though, I have had a hard time coming to grips with my daughter’s coming of age. She is an amazing kid and is turning into an amazing 13 year old young woman today. I am so happy for her, so proud of her, so glad to be her father and so ecstatic that I get to experience her 13th birthday with her and our family. Few men get to live the life I live when it comes to children and family.

So as I sign off of this little emotional rant, I would like to offer this suggestion to you parents, and specifically you fathers… love your children mightily. Men, if you have daughters, treat them like the lady you would expect her future husband to treat her like. Tell her she’s beautiful, smart, funny and awesome. Tell her you are a better man because she is your daughter. Let her know what she means to you as a man and as a father.

Every little girl needs to know her parents, specifically daddy, loves her. Make sure your son(s) and daughter(s) know it today.

Happy birthday my Sarah. I love you baby.

The sanctity of the toilet

Webster’s defines sanctity as:

1: holiness of life and character [godliness]
2a: the quality or state of being holy or sacred [inviolability]
2b: (plural) – sacred objects, obligations, or rights

I noticed something the other day… well, let me rephrase that… I had an epiphany the other day about something that I have done for a while now but only recently have come to appreciate. Taking time, when I get home, to go to the bathroom.

Ok, before you get grossed out over what I just said, understand that the bathroom, for me, is a sanctuary. A getaway, if you will. My place to go to gather my wits about me, perhaps catch up on a few emails or just generally avoid the noise that is the Gonzalez house as soon as I walk in the door. Sitting on the toilet, even if I don’t have to do anything toilety, is my zen moment, my place of relaxation and quiet, my focus time, my time to center. So my toilet is a sacred object. No, not an idol, but something that means a lot to me.

Of course you can probably surmise that I have very few hobbies. In fact most of my identity revolves around my family. I don’t hunt, fish, ski, gamble, work out or anything to occupy my time, so my one real outlet, outside of work, is my toilet. And to be honest, I think every man needs a place like this.

If it weren’t for my toilet I would be a bear to live with. I’d be cranky, irritable, grouchy and generally of an unpleasant disposition. So as long as my toilet and I have a little time together every afternoon life in the Gonzalez house goes smoothly. But take my toilet time away from me and boy, look out.

There could be a heavy load of crap to deal with if that ever happens.

Going through a teen life crisis

A few days ago my friend Ray called me up and brought to my attention that in a few weeks he and I were going to be father’s of teen aged daughters. Not that I needed any more worries on my plate right now. Thanks Ray!

Seriously, I have given it a bit of thought over the last few months. My daughter Sarah, my first born, will be turning 13 in just a few weeks (April 2, if you want to send cash and prizes). Ray’s daughter Kayla will be turning 13 on April 19 (or is the April 16? I always forget). So in just a few short weeks I am going to have a teen aged daughter.

And about fifteen months and a few short weeks from now I will have a second teen aged daughter. And frankly I am overwhelmed by it.

I have been looking forward to this time. I have dreamed of what it would be like to welcome my daughter into young adulthood, into an age of maturity, into the “teens”. But then I realized that for the most part, 13 is just a number.

Yes, it is a meaningful number. Most kids consider 13 to be a huge milestone in their young lives. I did. I remember turning 13 and thinking to myself “I’m a man now. Awesome.”. But to be honest, from that point on I can remember very little about being 13 or even being a teenager for that matter.

But I so want something special for my daughter. I want her to have a grand welcome party into teenhood. I want her to have a 13th birthday to remember. I want her to know that I feel as crazy about this as she does. Because I do. It is huge. For her, and for me, too.

I am not sure still what I am going to do. But I do know that I am going to stop sweating this whole “coming of age” bit and just continue to enjoy my children and the days of their youth. 13 has come so quickly that I can hardly remember the past 12. And I still have four more 13’s to experience. So I think that this 13, the first 13, will be a bit of a special 13 for me.

And I am sure it will be for Sarah as well.