Jackson is eleven today. That’s my son, if you are lost. Not my dog. My dog’s name is Sir Duke Barkington of Charlotte, and he is only 18 months old. And he’s a piece of shit, but I digress. Jackson is eleven years old today, and although him and I agreed that eleven isn’t like a super fun birthday, it’s still a day to be celebrated. An accomplishment. The excitement of being in double digits is gone, but he isn’t twelve, the last year of “childhood,” as he refers to it. So yeah, he might not be ten anymore, and maybe he isn’t twelve quite yet, but he still is A LOT of other cool things…
Jackson is smart. Gosh. He always has been. In preschool he took that screening test to get placed in a classroom. The teacher sat us down with a very serious look in her eyes and said, “I’m sorry to tell you that Jackson failed the test.” We looked at each other in disbelief. Why? We asked. Oh my! What can we do to help him get on track? The teacher’s reply went something like this: “Well, he’s great at following directions. And we were pleasantly surprised to see that he can umm, read, at a very high level. He’s social. He’s friendly. He was showing us math problems that he knows, which is, uh, fine, but you know, not what we are looking for. For example, we gave him ten blocks and asked him to build a box, and he did, but first he ordered the blocks by color and size.” We looked at each other, then back at her, “Also, he doesn’t know how to skip…” Is skipping important, I wondered later to my husband. Must be.
Jackson is kind. This one took some time. He’s an only child, so when he was a toddler he didn’t need to share his stuff. We noticed quickly this could have a negative impact on him later on, so we started taking him to parks and playdates with his toys. He started learning to share that way. The older he got the quicker he put it all together. He realized that if he shared his extra special, cool truck at the playground, then that other kid would share his extra special, cool motorcycle. Then one day, around the age of five, it sort of just clicked, the idea that being nice, in and of itself, is the best way to be. Being nice and expecting nothing in return, that’s the kind of kindergartner he was. And that is the kind of fifth grader he is. And I’m certain that is the kind of man he will one day be.
Jackson is empathetic, which sorta goes along nicely with kind, right? He knows what it is like to be made fun of. In kindergarten he was made fun of because he painted his fingernails. In first grade he was made fun of because his glasses broke and we were waiting for a new pair and we used tape to hold them together. When someone is bullied at school, he is the first one to jump up from his seat and intervene. He comes home to tell me stories of that time on the playground when that boy pushed his friend down and he told him, in a very serious tone, “That is inappropriate. You apologize to my friend.” And the kid apologized.
Jackson is sensitive. See above. Empaths tend to be. Sometimes too sensitive. He’s sensitive to sounds, to harsh people, to certain foods, and to being messy. He isn’t taken seriously by a lot of adults in his life because of this. A lot of our family members who have sons don’t “get” Jackson. But that’s okay. That just means he’s different. And different in this case, in most cases, is good.
Jackson is funny. He gets his sense off humor from me, for sure. He’s high-level funny. He gets the teachers’ jokes, when most kids shrug them off. He’s way into puns, but so help me Baby Jesus you throw a fart-joke at him and it can tickle his fancy just as much. He’s silly too. A little goofy. Those all go hand-in-hand.
Jackson is honest. He doesn’t like to beat around the bush and he says what needs saying. Wonder who he gets that from? Though he is learning to be a little more cautious when telling it “like it is” for fear of hurting feelings. He is honest, and he is fair. He has a REALLY hard time picking favorites. Like, for anything. He is scared that he will upset the chocolate ice cream if he says vanilla. That might be more empath coming out, but let’s just say my kid is not the one to cheat at a game, then promise he didn’t. He’d either not cheat at all, or get so upset that he would tell on himself immediately. Hoping this serves me well in the teen years. Now, he’s still a little boy. He still tries to run a fib on us every now and then. Usually about screen time. Like that time he figured out a way to work around the child-lock and hack into YouTube for more screen time. Smart? Sure. Deceitful? Yes. We reminded him that people who are willing to lie about “dumb” stuff, are willing to lie about “big, important” stuff too. We used our President as an example. Now he says, “Geez, I don’t want to be like Trump!” I call that a win.
I could go on, but I’m probably boring you all. So instead I will plop down some adorable pics of Jackson through the years. All I can hope for, for this eleventh year and all the years after, is that my kid stays true to himself. Follows the path that calls to him. It might not be easy, but it should be constantly moving him forward, teaching him, pushing him. I hope that he appreciates all we do for him. I hope that he looks back at his crazy Momma one day and laughs at my blog (I do this all for him). I hope he appreciates the 900 photos I take of him, the stories I share (even though he rolls his eyes when I tell him), and that he remembers the love and learning along the way.
Cheers to Jackson Riker on your 11th birthday, baby! To many more wonderful years ahead.