Whirlwind, today you turn 8 years old. Just as I did for your sister yesterday, I wanted to write you a letter to describe some of the things I admire and enjoy most about you.

Compassion: Where your sister has passion you have compassion. You don’t lack for drive in any way. We’ll talk about that soon, but your strengths are just a bit different. For an 8 year old, you have a great ability to think of others ahead of yourself. Every year on your birthday, you ask the classmates that you invite to your birthday party not to spend money on you, but rather to donate it to a worthy charity. Some years you ask them to donate it to nations/regions afflicted by natural disasters. Other years, you ask them to donate to wildlife funds to protect nature. This year the lucky animal that was the focus of your attention was the red panda.

Focus: Your Mom and I chuckle some times, never at you, but at the people around you who watch you do the things that you love. It doesn’t matter if it’s Karate, Baseball, building LEGOs or reading a book. You have an intensity and a focus that’s amazing. You get so absorbed in the things that you’re doing and you get such a determined serious look in your face. Other parents who don’t know you ask your mom or me, “is he ok? Is he having a good time?” We always laugh and tell them, “Oh yeah. He’s having a blast. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be doing it.” That focus is a wonderful skill that some grown ups spend their whole life time trying to master, but never do. Daddy is still trying. It just comes naturally for you. Be proud of it, Whirlwind and grow that focus. It will help you work through some of the challenges you may face as you grow older.

Rocks and Vision: You love rocks. As I write this, you have 2lbs of stones turning in your rock tumbler. They’ve been turning for close to three weeks now and still have a week to go. Which reminds me. Today after school, we need to stop them, rinse them and put in the stage four grit for the last stage. Can’t wait to see how they turn out. You love rocks like nobody’s business. You have crystals, geodes, and hundreds of rocks in apple crates in your bed room. Someday I’m going to have to hire a contractor to put braces under your bedroom floor, so you don’t tip the house.You spend hours smashing your grandfather and grandmother’s river rock looking for interesting shards.  You are always begging me to take home “just one more rock, Dad” from their pile. You know what? It’s ok. In fact it’s better than ok. It’s fantastic. You know why? Because you see beauty in those rocks that no one else does.

You have a unique and wonderful perspective that’s all your own. You have the ability to find beauty in places where no one else thinks to look. Hold on to that, Whirlwind. Nurture that ability, too. It will serve you well as long as you live.

Like I told your sister, this is just a very small list of some of the wonderful things about you that make Daddy love you more and more every day. Each day you grow stronger. You will need the strength that you can draw from that focus and perspective, Whirlwind. Life isn’t always easy, but remember three things: 1) You have vision and focus. Those are amazing strengths. Take advantage of them. 2) Daddy will always be there for you. Some how, some way, I will. I promise. 3) Daddy loves you heart and soul. THAT will never change. It will only grow.