Letter to my son on his 11th birthday

My lovely boy,

Another year has flown by and, as usual, I am completely unprepared to accept that you are a whole year older! Eleven! Wow! An official tween! No, I know you think that you were a tween when you turned 10 but you were wrong – get used to it!

Anyway, since I have my nerd street cred to protect and I like bullet lists, here’s some random useless facts about the number 11:

  • Apollo 11 was the first manned mission to the moon!
  • The Mariana Trench reaches a maximum known depth of 11 km!
  • World War I ended on the 11th of November (the 11th month) at 11 am!
  • 11 is the first two digit prime number,
  • the first palindromic number,
  • 11=6+5 AND
  • 11=(6*6)-(5*5)!

As you well know, I am a veritable font of completely random information like this that allow me to maintain a deep sense of denial about the disconcertingly swift passage of time!

So on your 11th birthday let’s talk about me for a bit!! You know how if you want to be a better reader you need to constantly read books slightly above your vocabulary level – well, everyday you make me a better parent! Every time I feel like – yeah, I think I’ve figured out this parenting thing – you force me outside my comfort zone! It’s like sparring with a boxing partner, except I’m blindfolded and wearing ear plugs!

And this year you are going to 6th grade – let’s just say that things are starting to get interesting! You also had your first health class a few months ago, where you heard about all the changes that were “just around the corner”. A slightly puzzling side effect of that class was the subsequent talk we had about “boners” – not gonna lie, that threw me a little! But moving right along….

We have had the opportunity to talk at great length about your body and how you should be proud of it and not be ashamed. Conversations that have been super comfortable for you and me…..NOT! But important conversations nonetheless about consent and privacy. And I’m sorry to inform you that I’m going to continue to talk to you about these topics regardless of how uncomfortable they get….like getting a root canal….without anesthesia…..during an earthquake uncomfortable, like nails on a chalkboard uncomfortable, like watching a movie sex scene with your grand parents uncomfortable. Deal with it dude!

So many things have happened to you this last year –

  • you saw a Beatle in concert,
  • played the truly heinous game of BeanBoozled,
  • sat through about a million soccer games with very little – ok, actually quite a lot of complaining,
  • traveled to India to see the Taj Mahal and the awesome Kanchenjunga,
  • traveled to Seattle and Vancouver to see the space needle and the awesome Canadian Coastal Range,
  • hiked and whitewater rafted on two continents,
  • spent time with friends and family,
  • showed some serious acting and singing chops,
  • played hockey and got a goal,
  • learned how to play Don’t Stop Believing, the theme from Jurassic Park, and House of the Rising Sun on the piano,
  • got an expander,
  • then got braces,
  • tried a crepe and didn’t die
  • watched the Griffins win the Calder Cup
  • visited Greenfield village and didn’t disown your mother
  • survived a power outage in winter and didn’t freeze to death
  • participated in your first march for science
  • and watched as an incompetent nincompoop got elected to the highest office in the land

By all accounts this was a busy year!

And what a supremely cool kid you are becoming!! With your crooked smile, your mad piano man skills, your intelligence, your prodigious vocabulary, and your ability to be completely unflappable – all things that will stand you in good stead for the future. You draw people towards you and are showing the potential to be quite a good human being.

I say “potential” because while you are lovely, there are a couple of things I’d like to suggest in the category “areas for improvement”!

Personal Hygiene: There are a variety of odors emanating from your room and person in a range of delicate yet offensive bouquets – they make me quite nostalgic for the sweet baby smells from just a few years ago. Showers are not akin to waterboarding – its ok to have more than one a week!

Fashion: you have been blessed with a face that looks good in any hat! From sombrero to beret to 10 gallon – it’s frankly annoying. But you need to let your old clothes go man. If you can raise your hands and have your t-shirt turn into a crop top that would make Brittney Spears circa 2000 jealous, then it’s too small for you! Likewise with shoes – when you lose feeling in your toes the shoes are too small. If the shoes don’t fit you must quit!

Persistence: NO! It is UNACCEPTABLE to stop reading the last Harry Potter book to go play stupid video games! It is also heinous that you can spend hours watching some stupid pimply tosser from the UK play video games instead of finishing Deathly Hallows!! I am not raising, quite frankly, a domestic terrorist who can put down Harry Potter to watch some idiot named Stampy Cat or Stinky Cat or Skunky Cat!! That is NOT happening!

Commitment: this one is situational actually. Your friends and you have made quite an elaborate plan to spend time on the road visiting peanut free pretzel places – the Bros in Search of Yummy Dough Adventure, or On the Histamine Road – the name is still up for a vote! And frankly, I think this is one plan you seem very committed to so bravo!

But let’s talk about the drumming/trombone/piano fiasco of 2017 shall we? Cut to 2015 and you told us how much you’d love to play the drums when you got to 6th grade. So dutifully we signed you up for piano classes because you need 2 years of piano to be eligible to play drums. Two years later you come back with a note saying that you’ve chosen the trombone as your orchestra instrument!

What about the drums, we say?

Nope, you say, I never wanted to play the drums! You’re both high! I want to play the trombone!

Ok, we order the trombone, you continue your piano lessons, and 3 months later you casually inform us that on further deliberation you’ve decided to play the drums!

Ummm…yeah, sorry! No can do mi amigo! You are stuck with trombone now so pucker up buttercup! Sheesh!


And now let’s talk about your musical tastes this last year. You’ve discovered AC/DC…..yay?! So here’s some of your faves!

Thank god you still like Coldplay!

As I finish writing this letter to you, there is disturbing news coming from Charlottesville, VA where a group of domestic terrorists held a “white pride” rally bringing together white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK – the trifecta of deplorable hate mongering.

And it’s at moments like this that I feel the full weight of raising children – because I’m not just raising the boy you are today, I’m leaving a legacy of the man you’re going to be tomorrow. So be kind, be loving, be peaceful, be articulate, be sensitive, be honest, be present. Life is not a spectator sport, it demands engagement so get involved. Stand up for what you believe, lend your voice to those whom society has marginalized, choose the high road but don’t be a pushover. And remember what I said about consent and privacy! And if you don’t I’m planning on being annoyingly repetitive!

Happy 11th birthday my beautiful little man! I love you now and forever! And no, I’m not crying! You’re crying! 

Love always


4 thoughts on “Letter to my son on his 11th birthday

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