My Strong Willed Boy

My sweet, smart, silly, talkative, energetic, strong-willed boy.

I watched you spin out of the church today talking 90 miles an hour about the fun you had at VBS. I look at you and see this big ball of energy. You are a force to be reckoned with.

You and I butt heads daily. When you were a toddler, it was all day every day of a never-ending argument with you. I would often have to remind myself that I am the adult and I am in charge.

You like things your way and will stop at nothing to get it. That is until I threaten to take all your legos and dump them in the trash. That is how I get your attention and that is when you know you’ve really crossed a line. Most of the time you correct your behavior and then sometimes, you dig in thinking you can do what you want. That’s when I have to dig in deeper and stay true to my word and punish us both for the week. Because let’s get real, when you’re grounded, I’m grounded too. But I need to raise a decent human being, not an entitled brat, who thinks he can get whatever he wants by stomping his foot and demanding things.

Despite the push and pull between you and me, your strong-willed personality is my favorite thing about you.

You fight for things that you believe in. Like the time you were 4 years old and decided to stage a protest in the meat department next to all the beef. You asked a random stranger if he was going to eat the steak he had picked up, to which the guy replied yes. I wasn’t prepared for what your little self did next. Your eyes got huge and you started crying and yelling “y’all are all murderers, those cows did nothing to you. Why would you eat some poor innocent animal?” After a failed “hush up” from me, I had to put you in the cart and whisk you out of the meat department. We had to have a long talk about how we couldn’t call strangers buying groceries “murderers” kids are not allowed to talk to grownups like that. You sir, at 8 years old still have not lost your passion and love for animals. You have since armed yourself with all kinds of facts and will still argue with someone till you’re blue in the face about animal rights and also about conserving the ocean. If you have this type of passion at 8 years old, I can’t wait to see what you will be like as an adult.

You never give up. It doesn’t matter how hard something is you keep on at it. Reading and spelling don’t come easy to you at all because of your reading learning disability. But I have watched you go from being way behind grade level in reading to being on target. You know at this young of an age that this is something you will continue to have to fight with and overcome. I have watched you have meltdowns at the kitchen table and you cry and say it’s not fair that it’s so hard for you and you just wish it was easier for you to read. I let you cry it out and when I go to comfort you and start trying to give you a pep talk, you tell me to stop. You dry your eyes, take a few deep breaths and say “let me try it again”. Right before you start to read you will look at me and say “you know I’m way better at math and science and don’t have to try at all for that.” and before I can speak, you roll your eyes at me and say “I know, I know, if I want to be a veterinarian and work on marine animals and help keep them from getting sick, I have to learn to read too” and then you try again.

Your personality has helped form you into the amazing brother you are. It’s not easy growing up with an older brother with autism. But you are the most caring, loving, helpful brother there is. You’ve known from early on that you are his “big brother” as you say it, even though you are his little brother. You need that strong-willed personality of yours to be a brother to someone with autism. You have no problem being ready to fight for him and most of the time I’m telling you to simmer down a notch because someone isn’t doing what you’re thinking. I love that you are on the defense for him at all times. But we have talked about how you can’t just be ready to throw a punch. We can’t go through life punching everyone in the face that looks sideways at your brother.

I am constantly worrying about if I’m doing right by you. If I’m parenting you the right way. I don’t want to “tame” that spirit out of you. So it’s all about you and me finding that right balance of me letting you go and me having to reel you back in.

I only have ten more years until you will leave my nest. I pray that I will continually be able to show you to how to love the Lord, have a big heart, love others unconditionally and be kind.

I just have to hang on for the ride and trust the lord. For if I do all that, you sir, will be destined to be an amazing leader and a world changer.

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