So the picture is a year old. I still really like it.
This year has been a rough year for that kid up there. It followed two of the toughest years I've ever faced in my time of being a parent - we've had tons of challenges, difficulties and struggles. Every time we leap over one hurdle, we turn around and trip over another, even more insurmountable one. Seriously, enough already, universe. You OWE us a good year or two.
Being a parent is RIDICULOUSLY difficult. Name a challenge, and I can probably give you not only a date that we faced it, but a laundry list of tips/tricks/cures/secrets/voodoo chicken dancing that we've tried to fix the situation.
Being a parent of a child who is struggling, and struggling hard to overcome things that other people a) don't see b) don't believe happen or exist or c) tell the parent, "Well, we don't see ANY evidence of this at all!" with the inference that the parent is lacking in basic, standard parenting skills - well, it makes it that much more difficult to keep a polite and sunny face.
But. Despite it all, that kid up there has remained a sweet and polite young person, one who is unfailing kind and caring, especially with those younger than himself. In fact, he will make an excellent father/big brother/uncle/baby sitter - he really shines in relationships that allow him to mentor. This child carries the weight of the world on his shoulders and worries incessantly about how he can fix things for which he is in no way to blame or responsible. He often sees that half full glass as "half full of something gross and probably bad for me, but I might as well have it to save everyone else from needing to deal wiith it", which can be trying -
but he gets up, every day, and looks each day dead in the eye and goes again.
And today, he is twelve. The baby that was more than two weeks late, who weighed just 7 pounds, born with blond curly hair and bright blue eyes exactly 2 months before Christmas - who now has darker close cut hair (because hair gel makes him insane and the cowlicks make me more nuts) and grayish blue eyes - the kid who works harder than just about anyone I know to overcome obstacles and gets defeated but gets back up again and again, that boy who loves Legos and Star Wars and reading and pizza and spaghetti and fruit and veggies more than life itself -
That boy is TWELVE.