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An Open Letter to My Son, Atticus, on His 9th Birthday

It is early. You are waking up in a fancy hotel decorated in mouse ears and the early Craftsman style. Below the window is a fresh day of new adventure.

The world is yawning. Your brother is sleeping. Your mother is sore and tired. You will do your best to make sure her day is filled with comfort except for those moments when you forget and become her lack of it. It is okay. You are nine.

Number nine. Number nine.

Today is your birthday, and it is a fantastic celebration of great things to happen and those that I miss already. Milestones are bittersweet and best for stepping on.

In hindsight they are soft and somewhat blurry.

Last year at this time you were celebrating your birthday with good friends in another town in the state where we lived. Now we live here and your birthday falls two days into the sunny side of summer. Your friends are scattered in airplanes and the backseats of minivans. Summer vacation knows no direction but all of them. Yours is an hour south of home and straight on til mornning. The world is wonderful like that.

It is early. You are waking up in a fancy hotel. I am sipping coffee against the dark frame of a now bright window, and I am wearing a robe because I appreciate the finer things.

By now you have me figured out. You know that I am quick with a joke, firm with the rules, and prone to melancholy. You are very much like me, but with a sweeter smile.

I find it hard to believe how big you are after you were so small for so long. I blinked and you grew. That doesn’t seem fair.

Last night I carried you to bed. You were tired and we were far from the room. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t easy. You get heavier with every step.

It was a long walk through starlit trees and song-soaked metaphors, and despite a back of ache and fire I never put you down. And I never will although at some point the weight may shift between figurative and literal, and then it might swing back again. There will be other kinds of waiting, too. That’s life in a paragraph.

There are more walks ahead, a lot, and I won’t be on all of them. That is when the lessons, if they were done right, should be the clearest.

There are many things that I want you to know, some that I tell and those that I show, but none of them matter as how much I love you. Remember that, and I think things will be okay.

Happy birthday, Atticus. Make nine matter.

Your adventure is waiting.

Whit Honea can be found writing about whatever he feels like at his personal site Honea Express (Honea sounds like pony) and DadCentric. If you’re really bored you can follow him on the Twitter or Pinterest (his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Babble or most rational people).

Also from Whit:

Oh, the Places They Will Go!

Taking a Lemonade Stand Against Childhood Cancer

An Award by Any Other Name

Do Your Kids Know How to be Popular?

There is a Monster at the End of This Video Game

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