I know this amazing kid who just turned 14, today actually. Most of you probably won’t ever get the privilege of meeting him in person, but as his curiosity grows and he ventures more into your presence I feel an introduction is in order. There’s so much I can tell you, but for the sake of brevity I’ll focus on a few of the most important things.
His name is Isaiah, though his friends call him Izzy – one of those monikers that formed on its own and stuck. He doesn’t mind being called Izzy, but he also likes for people to know his given name. Names are an important part of your identity and his name was chosen quite deliberately, so it’s a thing for him. You understand, right?
He has unwavering optimism for people and the world in general. He truly believes people are essentially good – even though some around him have proven otherwise—and he assumes good intent. It’s that youthful, unjaded outlook that I hope he holds on to for as long as possible.
As far as love and affection, he probably won’t hug and snuggle but that’s okay because he has his own ways. And if you’re paying attention, you’ll learn them pretty quickly … dancing with me in the kitchen to our own mouth-made beat, laying across the foot of my bed, or meeting me at the car when I get home just to carry my bag are a few. Not your typical non-verbal “I love yous” but they’re uniquely his and I would sorely feel their absence if he decided one day to not do these things.
Oh, it’s also worth mentioning that Isaiah plays soccer. And although he works hard at perfecting his craft, that’s actually not what’s worth noting. It’s how he shares his talent with other people. On any given spring or summer day you’ll find him at the park teaching (and playing of course) other kids about the game. I don’t think he realizes the significance of what he’s doing in sharing his knowledge and time with others, which makes it that much more incredible. To him he’s just doing something he loves with other – mostly younger – kids. He’s unknowingly sweet that way.
Isaiah has a beautiful smile, bright and curious brown eyes, and an energy that’s contagious. He loves to laugh and joke.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he’s perfect. He makes mistakes, forgets to do his chores, and plays too much some days. But he always wants to do the right thing. When he messes up, he fixes his mistakes as best he can. When he doesn’t do well on a test, he studies harder for the next one. When he sees someone not doing the right thing, he speaks up.
The last thing I’ll tell you is that Isaiah is a big brother, cousin, nephew, grandson, and friend so he has a lot of people rooting for him in this game of life. A lot of people who’ve nurtured him into the compassionate, smart, funny, sometimes shy, young man he is today.
So, that’s Isaiah.
By now you’re probably wondering why I’m writing to you. It’s actually pretty simple: as a parent, I’ve poured everything I have into this child and even some that I didn’t know I had. And the thought of sharing more and more of him with you is, quite frankly, terrifying.
As he gets older, my unrealistic mommy brain wishes I could somehow guard him from all the not-so-great things and people this world has to offer. But the rational, realistic side of me knows 1). that’s just not possible and 2). the world is full of remarkable experiences and phenomenal people who will enrich his life with learning, fun, and laughter; people who will recognize all the dope things I see in this kid. You, ironically, may be one of them one day.
So if you ever come across Isaiah, I have a few simple requests:
Treat him with respect, because I know that’s how he’s going to treat you.
Be kind because it’s the human thing to do.
Expect greatness. Not because he’ll do everything perfectly but because he deserves high expectations.
Laugh with him. When people laugh together it’s good for the soul (plus, he has a great laugh).
Be fair. I know, I know, life isn’t fair but we each have the capacity to impart fairness to another human being at least once in our lives.
Oh, and if you’re one of those people who will make negative snap judgments based on how he looks or talks or dresses, do me a favor and go the other way.