Dear William, 

Today is the day that you turn 11-years-old. You are officially a pre-teen in my eyes. It’s almost hard for me the fathom that you are 11-freaking-years-old. Next thing we know you will be 18 and walking out of our house onto the next chapter of your life. It’s so cliche to say that… and makes me feel so old. 

I know that I don’t tell you this all too often but you really are an incredible kid. Watching you grow up into the young person that you are really has been a blessing. You are really starting to mature into a young man. I have seen you try things that you wouldn’t have tried several years ago. Take the trumpet for example. You didn’t want to try out for the school band and yet here you are, playing the trumpet… and loving it! I know mom and dad pushed you into doing it, but you listened and actually tried it! See maybe mom and dad do know what we are talking about from time to time. 

I know that I am hard on you at times. I do ask a lot of you when you are doing chores and homework but that is because I know that you can do whatever you put your mind to. I ask you to come back in from playing with your friends just so you can finish putting away the dishes… properly all because you don’t take the 2 seconds to close the cabinet doors. See there I again… I admit that I do have a problem with giving you a compliment without saying something negative. I do this because I do expect a lot of good things from you but it is also because I love you. 

You are one incredible role model for your younger brother. Even your school principal has told us the positive role model that you are for him and many of his friends in school. I know that you have heard many of the worries that your mother and I have for him and you too are starting to worry about him. There is nothing to worry about necessarily just that your brother will take a different approach to parenting than you did. I think a lot of the big brother coming out in you has to do with the fact that you both are going to the same school and you are worried about what other kids will think about him. If there is one thing that I want you to know right now with the challenges we face with your younger brother it’s this, don’t let it bother you. You have become quite parentified already but be the kid you are and don’t let him change that. Let mom and dad handle it and then we will be able to tell you how you can help. 

This past year has been a challenge, but you have adjusted better than anyone I could imagine. Living through a global pandemic, attending virtual school, topped off with losing both your great grandparents and your grandfather on my side of the family in a matter of months can be trying on anyone at any age. You were incredibly close to both your great-grandfather and your grandfather. In fact, your grandfather was at our house when the whole pandemic started. You both shared the love of science and social studies and going to baseball games. He loved watching you play and would always tell me how good of a player you are and will be. You also shared your love of rocks and fossils with your great-grandfather. You would always play the trick of getting people to lick the “rock” (i won’t give away what happens when you lick that rock) much like Great-Grandpa would do to anyone that would come out the farm. Losing loved ones in that close a time period can be difficult for anyone and you made me proud in the way that you handled it. 

Speaking of school, it has been so much fun to watch you this year as you find the subjects that you enjoy the most. You have a love of reading that I wish I still had, It was at your age that my love of reading started to fade. I can’t really explain why but it did and I don’t ever want you to let that go away. Much like me, you love science and social studies. Math isn’t your strong suit. It wasn’t mine either but it’s a subject that we have learn in order to be successful… and much like my teachers told me, you’ll never have a calculator everywhere you go! That is until we give you a cell phone… but that won’t be until you are 13. Although keep trying to get mom into letting you have one… that’s a fun battle to sit back and watch. 

Over this next year, I have a feeling that there will be many more changes that come your way. You’ll handle them just as well as you have all of the other challenges. The important thing is that no matter what you keep your head up. Don’t let anyone or anything bring you down. On the days that I’m extra hard on you, just know that it comes from someone who loves you and cares for you. It might not feel like it at that time but I do. Face any challenge head-on and you’ll be able to conquer it.  

My parting piece of advice as you enter into your pre-teens, one day you’ll look back on your life and remember these days. Live a life that you will remember, these next few months and years will be the days that you will live for, because when you are older your heart will live for younger days. If that sounds like a song, yes it is, Avicci’s The Night’s. From what I can tell, it’s a pretty popular song on TikTok… a social media network that you have to explain to me every single day… because your old man doesn’t seem to understand it. 

Don’t forget how much I love you and how proud of you I am. 

Love, 

Dad

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