Today my sweet, sensitive, warm-hearted Everett turns 12. The growth I’ve seen in him in the past year (not just in stature, but holy cow he is getting tall!) blows me away. He’s not a little boy anymore. I officially have no more little boys. It was as if he went from boy to young man overnight. At twelve, Everett is kind and smart and fun-loving and just a general joy to be around. In honor of his twelfth birthday, here are twelve of my most favorite things about him.
1. He is loving. Everett just has a big, giant heart. He always has, but it is more evident now than ever. If you want to see it in action, you need look no further than the sweet and adorable way he loves on the cat (the cat that was originally wanted by just Tegan and myself, and has since claimed Everett as her person.) He is a nurturing, sweet, and patient “dad” to his fur-kid, and I know he’ll be just as doting with his human babies someday, too.
2. He is gentle. Here’s the thing. You know how people worry that violent video games will teach/encourage/incite violence from the people who play them? It’s something I never worry about. And the reason I don’t worry about it is that I have living evidence that refutes that claim, right in my own house. Everett, just like his older brothers and little sister, is one of the most tender hearted, gentle souls that I’ve ever known.
3. He is brave. I spent a regrettably large portion of my life being afraid, of nearly everything. Afraid to go new places, afraid to try new things. Not Everett. He lives for new experiences, and has always jumped at the opportunity to try new sports, new friends, new activities, new adventures. He’s awesome.
4. He’s an eternal optimist. I never see Everett doubting a situation, or doubting a friend, or doubting himself. He knows, and truly believes, that everything is going to work out for the best. From tiny Everett, back in his basketball-playing days, when he went almost an entire season without making a basket: “As long as I keep throwing it up there, eventually it’s going to go in the net.” And eventually it did. (Full disclosure – typing that just brought tears to my eyes. That happens to me a lot on birthdays)
5. He’s not afraid to challenge himself. I know this is really similar to #3, so I’m cheating a little bit, but when Everett decides he wants to do something new, he’s not at all deterred by the possibility of it being difficult to learn. Whether it’s playing the bass guitar, taking on another sport, or teaching himself to solve a Rubiks cube, he will sit and work and practice and practice and practice until he gets it right.
6. He’s sensitive. Big heart = big feelings. He loves hard, feels deeply, and has his mother’s soft spot for animals and underdogs.
7. He’s not afraid to be himself. The youngest of the three boys, but no longer the baby of the family once Tegan arrived, Everett never let himself be lost in shuffle. He knows who he is, and he knows who he’s not, and he knows who he wants to be. He’s adventurous in the way he expresses himself, he has definite opinions about how he chooses to dress, and his hair has been every color of the rainbow.
8. He’s wise beyond his years. Sometimes I forget he’s as young as he is, because he fits right in with the big boys. In fact, some of his best friends are teenagers, and you would never know there was an age difference. He is confident, and well-spoken, and carries himself with the grace and maturity of an old soul. BUT:
9. He’s goofy. One thing I love about teens and tweens is their ability to seamlessly move between child-like wonderment, and thoughtful maturity. At the end of the day, he’s still a kid, and he still loves to play. We took him out for birthday burgers tonight, and one minute we were discussing big topics like football stats and politics…. and the next he was balancing his fork on the two straws in his soda.
10. He’s smart. One of the truly cool things about unschooling is that you get to watch and appreciate the unique intelligence and learning styles of each of your kids. Everett is a sampler. He likes to try lots of different things, one at a time, devoting all his energy and attention to his current passion, until he’s had his fill. He is a true autodidact, and I am so proud of him.
11. He’s affectionate. When I wrote my About Us page several years ago, I wrote this about Everett: “He gives the most phenomenal hugs.” I updated that page recently, but that one sentence still had to stand. He’s not a little boy anymore, but when it comes to hugs, he’s still the same squish that he was at five. He doesn’t shrink away if I try to put an arm around him, or rub his back, and I love that about him.
12. He is a good friend. To me, to his dad, to his siblings, to his peers. He makes people laugh. He cares about others. He’s the kind of guy you want standing beside you… in the good times, and the bad. He’s strong and loyal and trustworthy and true.
And I’m so very glad that I get to be his mom.
Happy, happy birthday Everett. Thank you for the twelve years of love, light and laughter.