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.