Today you turn 13.
This is probably the last time we'll ever speak since I'm moving into the bomb shelter until you turn 21, 'cause, dude, I don't want any part of what all is coming up.
I'm kidding. I am actually very excited about what is coming up, especially since you are suddenly very interested in watching The Office and that is so much more tolerable and interesting to me than Pokemon, or Yu Gi Oh, or Total Drama Island.
When I first met you, you were six years old, and in first grade. Your dad brought you into the store where we worked together, and he introduced us, and Jude hid behind his legs while you said, "Hello there, Buffy."
In the months following our meeting there were screaming contests (literally; this isn't a metaphor for a fight), swimming, sidewalk chalk drawings, Super Mario Brothers all-nighters, and tag games. We did a whole lot of stuff back in those days, mainly because your father and I didn't live together yet so we had to find cool stuff to do outside of the house.
We've had some tough times together as well. You had a lot of trouble understanding your mother's illness, how it kept her away from you so much when you were so young, and I had the simultaneous joy and guilt of being able to help you deal with that. I am very glad that I got to know you, got to sit up with you at night and help you through some rough nights, but I have to tell you it is very difficult to come up with a good answer to some of your questions, "why won't mom come home" or "why can't I go to my mom's house" or "can't she please just stay home with us tonight". All I ever knew to tell you was that she loves you, and she's working on it. I hope that was enough.
You are one of the smartest, brightest, most resilient kids I've ever known, and I can't even imagine what all lies ahead of you. You sure do like to talk so I might suggest a career in politics or lawyering. You clearly also combine with that talk-love a pinpoint accuracy in recalling detail, I can't even tell you how many episodes of Family Guy or The Simpsons that you have described to me, and I could tell that you didn't forget a thing because it would take the same amount of time for you to describe it to me as it would to actually sit down in front of the tv and watch the bloody show. HOLY GOD, MAN, you need to apply your talent for seven-hour oration to something besides shows I don't even like, I beg of you.
Seriously, never stop expecting a lot from yourself, because you have the charisma and smarts to do a lot of interesting things with your life, and that kind of stuff almost never just falls into your lap: you have to work for a happy life, to enjoy your pursuits and have a happy family. Just like Gordy Ramey used to tell my mama: Remember who you are. Know that this life just gets harder and harder, all the time, and there will be moments when you think you will break, when you think it will never get easier. And I'm not here to tell you that it gets easier, because sometimes it doesn't. But it changes. Your feelings, the situations you're in, your desires, your goals, it all changes all the time, and no matter how hard it gets you can always come to your dad or me to talk about it, because we will always love you just as much, and we will always be your parents no matter how scary or unpredictable life gets.
Listen, I ain't your mama, have never been your mama and will never be your mama. But I do love you and want good things for you. I will always be there to talk or help in any way that I can. This fall you start eighth grade, and I am here to tell you that this stage of life is hard, hard for everyone, and the best thing I know to say about it is don't let them see you hurting, save the hurting for when you get home, and always be open to new friendships.
And no drinking or drugs until you're older. And no sex. Or girlfriends. Maybe you should just come straight home from school. And don't be talking to hussies on the phone, either. No HBO or Cinemax. And punch a motherfucker in the face if he fucks with you. But don't be a bully. Oh for God's sakes, I have to go; the bomb shelter is calling my name.