By Erin Dymowski
Today you turn 16. You are no longer a child, but nearly a man. And as much as I celebrate the ever-more-amazing you, I want to wrap you up in super-duper extra strength bubble wrap and keep you safe and sound as you navigate the next few years. In light of the obvious practical issues with doing this, I offer this prayer instead.
May you always remember to silence your phone before you drive. My heart couldn't take a last text from you about what you want to eat for dinner. And furthermore, may other cars steer clear of you on stormy nights, in winter storms, in summer downpours and on sunny days. May every road you travel bring you safely back to us in one piece.
If you decide to skydive, hang glide, scale huge mountains, wrestle alligators or fly a small Cessna, may you have every bit of luck to get you back home and the good sense to know that your mother doesn't need to know about that craziness until long after the fact.
May you make good decisions every time. But when you make the bad ones, may you be given a moment of grace so that the consequences aren't life-altering, heart-breaking or soul-crushing. May you appreciate this moment then for what it was: a gift and a chance to grow. May you understand why we will feel the need to take away the car/phone/television/computer to help you learn this lesson.
May you pick a college that we can all afford that gets you where you want to go. May you be blessed with friends there who will help you bridge that last important step to full manhood. May you appreciate the wonderful opportunities college affords. And may you have a ridiculously good time there. Bills and responsibilities and weekly paychecks will all come soon enough, so have fun. Just not the kind of fun that requires bail money. May you have the wisdom to know the difference.
May you forgive us our trespasses. These are the years where we are revealed fully to you, for good or ill. May we measure up to the job we were striving to do. If you ever suspected we are winging this parenting thing, you were only partially right. We took our job very seriously -- read the parenting books, asked for guidance, fretted about travel teams, laid down technology rules and saved for college tuition -- but we wonder often whether all those decisions were setting you on the right path. Throw us up a flare once in a while to let us know things are going well on your end. And know fully that every mistake was one of the heart. You'll see someday just how blind and crazy love can make you.
And speaking of love, take your time. True love is worth the wait. May you find someone who loves you, not like we do, but completely, honestly and deeply. May your future partner be your friend too who can help you on your way. There is nothing like a partner who can help you laugh through life's hiccups, hold the bucket through life's illnesses and grab the tissues through life's disappointments and heartbreaks. And as a bonus, may you find someone who happens to think that I am great too. I don't want to have to beg you to visit, so find someone who loves your family as much you do.
May you pick a job you love that makes enough money so you can move out of the basement, but not so much that you are trading happiness for a fat paycheck. Money is great. We are big fans of money, but it pales in comparison to time with the people you love.
Oh, and here's prayers for a life well-lived: Be all in. Explore, read, see the world, get involved, defend a cause, right a wrong, step out of your comfort zone, sing, dance, make a fool of yourself, swim, run, hike, watch sunsets, play games and look at stars.
Live long and prosper, sweet boy. The best is yet to come.