It’s that time of year again…where I get all teary eyed and brag about my children endlessly. That’s what you get when both your kids are born in the same month…


I’ve always thought he was a wise old soul. Now I’m certain.

My first born turned 12 this past week and I’m still working through the emotions wrapped around just another number yet anything but another year-in-the-life.

12. 12. Never mind where years 1,2, 3, 4-11 went, I want to know how he managed to become, very honestly, one of the most compassionate and amazing humans to walk the earth.

I know, I sound like every Mom. Convinced entirely their child is the greatest and better at everything than any other child ever was.

Except, I know better.

I know my son struggles with many things, not the least of which is a mother with a chronic illness. He struggles with his own illness as well, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Though mild it’s enough where people who don’t spend much time with our family notice and some even dare to poke fun. Something I notice and get my mom claws out immediately over, but something my son brushes off and even questions, as they clearly do not understand his higher intelligence and he feels genuinely sorry for them. No really, this is how these conversations go. He has sympathy that this child or adult hasn’t met anyone like him and doesn’t know enough about the world to have even learned there are people who are different. He wants to educate them and gets simultaneously upset at their upbringing and the world and our culture because some people can be so sheltered, mean, or uneducated.

You would think a tween headed into the teen years would want to just blend in, especially one already dealing with OCD and yes, a higher intelligence than his peers. But, no…not our child.

His hair is currently longer than my own with a bright red streak on one side. When he is mistaken for a girl he asks the person if they have ‘gender’ issues. He’s not being rude, or trying to start anything…he truly wants to know if they have gender issues and why they can’t fathom a male with long hair. He sees the world very clearly and gender does not come into play when it comes to hair length.

This is all entirely logical to him and not even slightly malicious. Far from it. He wants to understand. He wants you to understand and he wants to understand you.

I feel as though this past year he has matured so very much I can’t help but wonder in awe at his accomplishments and just the way he carries himself.


He wants to go to M.I.T.

While he understands science and physics and has the periodic table of elements in a frame over his bed, he spent much of his school days struggling with math. But he understood completely if he wanted to get into M.I.T. one day, he would need to be good at math.

He wants to do large equations like Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory…complete with a big ‘ol white board for his bedroom.

So, in his very own way, he spent much of his first year of middle school melting down and incredibly emotional over what he thought was his inability to grasp whatever math lesson was being taught. And in his very own way once again he decided it just wouldn’t do anymore and flipped that switch off, turning on a new one, bringing home extra credit work and practice in order to understand the math he swore he didn’t understand.

Just as soon as his emotions calmed, the math would be finished in a second flat. He would remark how easy it was and move on to his video game.

I’m not suggesting it’s remarkable my child fulfilled his math duties as a 6th grader, but what I am suggesting is that at the tender age of 11 he realized he had a goal that was another lifetime away and began working towards it full force and this is the kicker…without prodding from his father, without pushing from me.

That is the old soul in him. The one who can see beyond the immediate gratification of a reward for an ‘A’ or the back patting from Mom and Dad.

He’s going to be a scientist. He’s going to retrieve the rovers from Mars. He’s going to cure Lupus. He’s going to do everything he says he will do, because I’ve watched him simply change his mind to make it so.

And while all of those goals are great, nothing makes me more proud than when he is simply Jack.

The kid who still saves half a cupcake if there is a birthday in class because he knows his sister will love the frosting.

The kid who used his own birthday money to buy another fedora for a boy at his birthday party after some kids at school threw the original, used as the goodie bag to hold candy for his guests, over a wall on a walk during P.E. Without me asking. Without me offering. Without it even being an idea in my mind at the time…just said, “Mom, I need to buy him another one…those kids were jerks for doing that and I told them so.”


Entirely unafraid to stand up to the “athletic” kids as he calls them and entirely determined the world will be fair on his watch.

Another thing I adore about him…his ability to feel so deeply for others to the point of tears while watching the news. No, he doesn’t want me to turn it off. He wants to learn more. Even if it upsets him.

At first I thought maybe he just needed to try and understand why evil exists. He wanted to keep watching so he could have some explanation for his always moving mind.

But then I realized that was only part of why he wanted to keep watching, despite feeling such empathy he was in physical pain and emotional distress. He wanted to keep watching because he needs to know everything about the problem in order to fix the problem.

His brain is constantly coming up with new ideas on how to make planes safer, how to end racism, how to feed the hungry and house the homeless. He is tremendously upset by injustice and disgusted by bigotry.

It could be 1 in the afternoon and we’ve just finished watching a Disney movie and he will suddenly begin a monologue on how he’s almost figured out how to get the cells in my immune system to behave normally but he needs to know more about immunoglobulin so he might look that up tonight in bed, but not until after he finishes a documentary he was watching on string theory and that one video he wants to see that can show him how to level up in the game he’s playing with a glitch this guy found.

At least there was some time in there to be a typical boy. I think.

Yes, I worry that he worries too much. A 12-year old should be climbing trees and riding his bike and squeaking in that prepubescent way, not wondering how he can stop climate change and cure cancer.

But never fear, he is also every inch of a 12-year old boy that you would expect combined with a wise old man. A wise soul filled with so much love it hurts us both at times. He’s even shown he has the heart of a writer and poet…something I wasn’t expecting with his usual scientific mind.


I’m beyond proud of the man he is becoming and wish I could stop time to let him enjoy his childhood a bit longer. But something tells me that just is not how he wants things to go. He wants to accomplish so many thing and understands he needs to grow and age in order to do these things.

Just that he understands this, astonishes me. But I don’t know why I’m surprised, he’s been showing me this part of himself his entire life. And it’s a life I’m damn proud of.

Happy Birthday Jackson.



  1. Brendazzle* says:

    Happy Birthday Jack!

    I am ecstatic to live in the same world as you, especially since I know how much better you are making it. I want to grow up to be you (and I’m twice your age).

  2. He is the awesome-est. I am so thankful kids like him exist. Happy Birthday Jack!

  3. Eustice The Sheep says:

    I feel very lucky to have met Jack. I share Jack’s desire to understand things, to use what might now be trite terminology, to “grock” them like the central character in Robert A. Heinlein’s book Stranger in a Strange Land.

    The person you describe is the sort of person I’ve always wanted to fill my life with. As he grows I wish him a life full of people able to appreciate how unique and important to humanity he is.

    Happy Birthday Jack! We’re wishing you another wonder filled trip around the sun!

  4. While your son sounds like an incredible human being, what kind of school is he going to?

    Same with your daughters school.

    Any hair color that isn’t a natural color is not allowed, and male students can not have hair any longer than the bottom of their ear lobe.

    And children are taking a WALK during P.E. wearing fedoras? Is this some Richie-Rich middle school where the kids just make up their own rules and P.E. is just time for the children to socialize whilst playing on their brand new iPhone?

  5. Oh Jana, with your fake email addy because anon comments are so ‘cool’ or cowardly, which ever.

    …. I’ve written about their school, but here let me lay it out for you since you must be ‘new’ here: they attend a tuition free public charter which is K-12. It’s project based and they teach leadership, and becoming global citizens. They do not teach to the test and they are not drilled to be little clones. That means he’s free to express himself be it in hair color or length, because this isn’t 1953. And most of us are aware it’s not what you wear or how you style your hair, it’s what you learn. His hair color, or my daughter’s hair color, doesn’t get in the way of math or anything else…and why you think it would it beyond me.

    I’m very sorry you live in a state or city or wherever that doesn’t allow students to express themselves in harmless ways like hair color. I’m very proud our little FREE school teaches tolerance of differences and diversity. Shame you must be stuck somewhere in which it actually matters to people what color hair children have or what length it may be. My God what do they do if they are diverse in skin color? Or religious beliefs? Or gay? Do they still just burn them at the stake by you?

    And yes, in Southern California they were walking to their PARK wearing fedora’s which, in case this is too hard for you to comprehend, shields their skin and heads from the hot sun. My son has created and cultivate his very own style, one in which he incorporated into his birthday party with a few other boys who then wore their fedora’s to school the next week and instead of baseball hats wore their new ‘Jack’ hats to school. A very nice gesture, I thought. As for them walking to PE and during PE…would you rather the drill sgt. just scream and make them march and jog to the park? Again, think out side the box here, or keep looking for reasons to hate…which is a shame on a post my son graciously allowed me to share – as he is in charge of what I write publicly about him.

    He is glad you said he seemed like an incredible human but he wants to know why you care if he has long hair, a fedora, or an iPhone. He also asks me to ask you why you wouldn’t leave your real information, as he’s been taught real leaders back up their thoughts and words about things with real action and their real names and it is not a sign of true leadership to be fake.

    Told you he was pretty damn awesome.

  6. Kjirsten says:

    That Jack is the bee’s knees, the cat’s pajamas, he’s peachy AND he’s keen. And no spoilsport can ever take that away from him and his sheer awesomeness. Happy 12, sir!

  7. Dyrinda says:

    My daughter’s public school doesn’t fuss much about hair — aside from when lice might be in play — but oh, if some girl happens to wear a tank top to school, Katie bar the door. It’s not really an issue for us since my tomboy daughter prefers skulking around in super hero shirts and sneaks, but the implications still irk me.

    Dress codes, I guess, are tricky beasts.

    But happy birthday, young Jackson. Judging by your mother’s (no doubt completely unbiased) praise, the future is in good hands.

  8. “Any hair color that isn’t a natural color is not allowed, and male students can not have hair any longer than the bottom of their ear lobe.”

    Your mileage may vary, Jana.

    Our school district (Southern, public) does not have length guidelines of which I am aware — for any gender,

    For color and style, our school district draws the line at “distracting to other students” though it is left up to individual school administrators to determine what is or is not distracting.

    I have seen blue hair, purple hair, multi-tone hair, long hair, wide hair, half hair and no hair.

    In all the years, only once have I known a student to be asked to change his or her hair, and that was for a young gentleman who clipped the ends of his braids with beer bottle caps — he was asked to change the caps to beverages for which he was not underage.

    Otherwise I am so pleased to say that my experience has been that our administrators and staff have their eyes on what is truly important — the minds of the students and the preparation needed to develop them for the local and global communities.

  9. Lucretia says:

    Where is this bizarre public school that thinks hair color or length are the character of the student?

    My daughter’s public school has kids with all lengths and colors of hair and her recent turquoise ombre ends weren’t even extreme. 6th grade, thanks.

    Jack is awesome. He’s the kind of kid I am happy to meet when my kid introduces me to her friends — smart, driven, individual, and capable of understanding that quirks like OCD can be strengths when you want them to be.

    Happy Birthday Jack!!

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