1. You've got a wicked sense of humor. In fact, I had a terrible time disciplining you as a toddler because you always always always would laugh--tough to lay the smack down on a kid who was so jolly. And you are still a funny kid, full of jokes and laughter.
2. You're pretty darn smart and you knuckle down on school work. I've never had to fight with you to succeed in school because you value learning and take it seriously. It's a pleasure for your brainiac mama to have a son who shares that kind of passion.
3. You adapt. I've heard this about middle kids, but you really go with the flow. It's easy to love someone as easygoing and laid back as you. It amazes me that you can play alone, with both brothers, one or the other without batting an eye.
4. You're passionate. I can't remember a time when you weren't crazy about water and everything that lives in it. When you were two you watched Finding Nemo over and over and over again. When given the option for a school project, you always pick sharks. Your favorite section of the library is nonfiction--sea and sea creatures. You swam like a champion at a very early age and you love to fish. I'll be shocked if you don't grow up to be a marine biologist. Things you also love: apples, Nutella sandwiches, Legos, shooting your BB gun, football, Clay Matthews, chocolate milkshakes, playing the Wii, Star Wars and your brothers.
5. You get along with everyone--and I do mean everyone. You're a supportive friend, you include everybody, you play fair, you recognize when people are down and you cheer on others when they're up. It's authentic when you tell me you want to have a party and invite your entire class--you're just that kind of kid who is friends with all the kids.
6. You are mentally tough. I'm so impressed at your ability to shut out the rest of the world and concentrate fully on one thing at a time. I've seen you do it on the pitcher's mound, in the dojo and at football. You zoom in, focus on the task at hand and perform. You shake off failure, ignore the negative chatter and grit your teeth. This skill, son, will serve you well your entire life.
7. Along with your mental toughness is an ability to work hard and practice. You understand the connection between extra effort and extra reward. You're the kid who practices his karate to get better at it, the kid who pitches into the net in the basement, the kid who dribbles to become a better ball handler. Despite the fact that you're not the most naturally talented athlete, you have a lot of heart and trytrytry your hardest.
8. You have great faith. You ask tough questions and have a solid understanding of what you believe and why you believe it. And you're unafraid to tell other people. Even more important than that, you show other people your faith in God through how you act--generous, helpful, thoughtful, respectful and kind. People can tell your heart by the way you live your life, and your heart is good.
9. You're creative--whether building on Minecraft, inventing war games with your buddies, drawing pictures of zombies or decorating a wall honoring the Green Bay Packers, you are full of ideas and think outside the box. It's never dull living with you because you always surprise us with what you say and do.
10. You have a smile that lights up your entire face--and you infect others with that smile. It's impossible to look at you when you smile and not return the joy.
Mr. B, we love you. Happy birthday.