Boy Scout, black belt, wrestler and chef-in-training. Mr. T, I think you're pretty fantastic and here are 11 reasons why today:
11. You know how to have FUN. You can invent a game or contest faster than most kids can power up their PlayStations. Like MacGyver, you can take a toothpick, a fistful of leaves and a length of string and create Something To Do. That, son, is a gift.
10. Your creativity means you think outside the box, an ability undervalued at Happyland Elementary, but this same creativity serves you well as you head into deeper waters with greater problems. And you are funny! Your sense of humor is so wry and hilarious.
9. You're so honest. You cannot tell a lie, and if you do, it eats and festers at you until you confess. Your conscience is super-prickly, but this means you're a kid people will always trust.
8. You're not ashamed to like what you like. You're not obsessed with being cool or popular. You are authentic and true to yourself and believe me, buddy, that makes you cool now and contrary to what you think, you'll be even cooler as you age.
7. Your manners are impeccable. I get complements on you all the time for that.
6. You've become a Super Reader. It thrills me to catch you reading for pleasure instead of doing any number of other things. How fun it is to watch you branch out beyond Goosebumps into new series.
5. You treat other people well, kindly and with respect. Even the people you don't particularly like, you show them Christian compassion.
4. You try new things without fear. I wish I'd been more like you earlier in my life. You head off to camp, to cooking class, to wrestling eager to learn and meet strangers, focused on the excitement of new experiences instead of the uncertainty.
3. You've begun to show passion for a few things--at last! Watching you wrestle and head off on camping trips I see that spark of joy and determination catch fire. It gives me relief to see you discovering passions after watching you try and dismiss so many things over the past few years.
2. You're the best big brother. You provide counsel, protection, advise and leadership for Mr. G and Mr. B. They know how lucky they are to have you in their court and they'll follow you anywhere. You've instilled that love and loyalty by doing your job so well.
1. When I look at you I can still see the baby with fuzzy, tiny ears that I cuddled in my arms; the toddler I carried to bed while his thumb slipped out of his mouth; the little boy with huge eyes and sweet cheeks who I read to for hours. You are a package of potential while retaining the blush of innocence--eleven is a tender time of life and it's a great experience watching you take another step into young manhood while still holding onto boyhood for another year.
Happy Birthday, Mr. T! I love you.