Today you turned ten years of age, my eldest son, today is your birthday.
I still remember that pre-Dawn drive to the hospital on that rainy Oklahoma morning. After waiting all morning you finally arrived in the afternoon, to a clear and breezy beautiful afternoon.
You are at a curious crossroads in your development, Israel, with so many varied and strange emergent facets of your personality developing.
I confess that you are favored by me, due in no small part to the similarities we share in temperament and thought-process. Of course, this is not to say that I treat your siblings with any less love or that I neglect them in favor of you… simply that you and I are so uncannily alike that I cannot help but be fascinated by you. I treasure your company and delight in learning more about how your incredible mind works.
Your mind is the first thing I think about when I think about you. It is singular. In all my life, I’m not sure I’ve ever known somebody who possesses your tremendous intellectual potential. It’s not merely rote learning (though your name is consistently at or near the top of the honor roll) but the creativity through which you engage a matter that you are interested in, so all-encompassing and astute.
That said, you quickly become indifferent to anything that you find boring or just subordinate to your interest. Much like the sort of Aspergerian anti-hero archetype embodied by Sherlock Holmes, when you are within your element, you are without peer or rival. But for anything that abides beyond the horizon of your interest, it may as well be hidden inside a locked closet in a basement on the other side of the Universe.
What are those interests?
You remain obsessed with technology, machines, puzzles, and fantastical stories. I cannot imagine what precise vocation these interests incline you toward, though I will likely continue to direct you toward technology and possibly engineering. Your eventual return to Annapolis in eight years is by no means guaranteed, though I will pull every string and grease every palm to make it so. Oh… but I’m getting a good deal ahead of myself.
Physically you are only of average to slightly above-average height, nowhere near as tall and willowy as your elder sister, but already of far greater strength. Built solid across the shoulders and in the legs, you can crank out 100 pushups on your knuckles without stopping.
Though indifferent and averse to “ball” sports, I think you have tremendous potential as a long-distance runner and powerlifter. You are a quick-study in martial arts, a careful and cunning competitor as opposed to most wild and frenetic boys your age.
To your teachers you occupy a role that is almost as much a bane and it is a blessing to them. They each, in turn, marvel at your capabilities and yet lament losing your attention. Often, if seems they are scrambling for ways to engage the ornate and nebulous dynamo that is your mind. They are not always successful, but your irresistible sweetness endears you deeply into their affections.
Also too have the little girls in your class taken an interest in your abundant charisma.
During a recent jog around town, I passed by a house where a group of girls were twirling and chatting. They asked if I was “Israel‘s daddy,” to which I responded that I was. At this they started giggling and one of them cooed, “Well I think he’s cuuuuute!”
Last week after a school board meeting, one of your teachers stopped me and asked if I was aware that almost every girl in the 4th and 5th grade has a crush on my son. I said that I had no idea. “Neither does he!” the teacher said with a laugh. Like your Uncle Mark says, you’re so money and you don’t even know it.
Within our household you are treasured. Gaelynn dotes upon you, and the two of you remain close playmates. Sophia both idolizes and antagonizes you. Liam adores and aggravates you. Xander laughs at almost every thing you do.
Your mother and I talk about you often. We look forward to your many golden days still to come. So much hope and wonder abides upon your broad shoulders.
During our drive home from karate class a few days ago I asked you what you wanted to be when you grow up. You said you wanted to “go on adventures” just like your hero Link, but also have a factory in Overton that “builds robots.” When I asked what your robots will do, you responded with a laugh, “Explore space, of course!” <sigh>
Whatever you become in your life, your mother and I both know it’s going to be something spectacular. Indeed, it cannot help but be… you’re Israel.
Oh, I love you my son, I look forward to another year with you. I pray that God gives me the strength to raise you well, and help you become the man you need to be.