To Canton As You Turn 13

Dear Canton,

Look out for the “terrible twos” and the “teenage years”! When veteran parents so lovingly impart wisdom on new parents this was what I most frequently heard. Imagine, passing a mom and her cuddly baby in Target or the grocery story and telling them how terrible it is going to be. 

Oh how wrong they were about the twos! You were curious, funny, reading, counting, and still crawling up into my lap. You are still so curious, still learning, and I am blessed I still get a hug and a song each night. You definitely sleep longer now than at two!

I do imagine the teenage years might present different challenges. I think that society does kids your age a great disservice by expecting the worst. I do expect more eye rolls, more sleeping, but I certainly do not expect you will be anything less than what you have always been: kind, brilliant, empathetic, curious, heart on your sleeve, loving, genuine human. 

Still, the road of the teenage years is not easy. It is filled with twists, turns, and heartbreak. I rest easy believing in your character and knowing that you will make good choices. Even if you don’t, because sometimes you won’t, I will always be here. My love for you is a love without conditions. 

We are living and learning in unprecedented times. I’m sorry the world is so crazy right now. You are coming of age when the world feels so unstable. Your empathy is your superpower, use it. It seems cruelty and apathy are the air society breathes nowadays, but you cut through all of that. Continue to live your truth and live in that empathy, it’s a rare gift, it is a true strength. 

You entered middle school for the first time, as sixth grade was virtual. It’s scary, it’s a big deal, it’s a big change. You have managed your anxiety, advocated for yourself, and are beginning to learn more about who you are and the friends you want to have. You are more confident in your own skin, in your true self, than I was at 13, even 23! You are brilliant, funny, interesting, you are magic. Who else is going to teach everyone the flags of literally every country in the world?

You continue to excel academically. I honestly didn’t know 100% in every class as a seventh grader was possible. Even though your report cards are a thing of dreams, there is nothing like watching you on the stage. You had three huge performances while you were 12: Schulie in School House Rock, Iago in Aladdin, and starring as Tiny Tim in the Christmas Carol. The stage is exactly where you are supposed to be, you are home. It is one of my greatest joys to see you morph into these other characters, to bring yourself into these different personalities, to see the light in your soul. You blow us all away.

Things are changing, just as they are supposed to, it is hard, but it is a blessing to watch you grow. I catch sight of your continuously growing feet, bigger than my own, and wonder, where are those tiny baby toes? I swallow the lump in my throat as I meet your eye line as you continue to catch my height, knowing the little head I rested on my shoulder as I paced the floor with your colickly body, will soon be over mine.

A few weeks ago you asked me what the big deal was about birthdays. What’s the big deal? It all started with you. The world changed when you came into it. You made us parents, no one else in the whole world did that, you did. It was you who changed nights into weeks and years into days.

So “the teenage years”? I’m not dreading it, I certainly don’t need their sympathy. All the world’s a stage, and you are the shining star, and I get to watch the show from VIP seats. I’m the luckiest mama in the world, because no one else has you. 

Happy 13th Canton!

I’ll love you forever! I love you Sunshine!



One thought on “To Canton As You Turn 13

    Wow, it’s so hard to believe that you are a teenager! I am so proud of you, for all you have accomplished. It is going to be so interesting to see where life takes you. Hope you know that I love you very much and I am so very proud to be your Great Aunt. I will be doing FaceTime later today so we can enjoy watching you open presents.


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