Nine years old. Good gracious where does the time go? I realize this question is tousche but still, man, wow. Ben is nine. I remember nine. Nine, in fact was probably my ‘best year’! LOL But honestly, it probably was my very best year.

When I was nine I had gymnastics practice every day M-Saturday for two or three hours a day. That was fun spending time at the gym practicing my routines and perfecting my “eagle” on the bars. I got 1st place on the balance beam in the junior olymmpics meet, which is actually pretty cool. I nailed my dismount and scored a 9.1. I got third on bars and I don’t remember my score. I got 2nd all-around and I remember how proud my coach Valerie Feltham was. I remember that day she was prouder than usual.

Also, during my ninth summer I finally beat Shannon Senior in a diving meet. And it wasn’t just ANY meet-it was the state meet at Vermack pool in Dunwoody. I got my double down just days before and I scored higher than she did on that dive, beating her in the total score by just a point. Unbelievable day. I remember my parents were out of town and my sister Sally went with me to the meet. She was so great to have my towel ready and make a big deal out of it. I was really happy.

Now I have a child who is nine. Wow. For his birthday, we woke him up at 5:45am singing happy birthday, tossing balloons and presents on him while he slept. Rob is out of town on a fishing trip and hated to miss Ben’s birthday but he was on speaker phone this morning singing with us. He had to get on the boat at 5:45 am so that’s why we woke Ben up so early.

He got a super powered nerf machine gun with 50 rounds that shoots up to three rounds per second. Also, he got a lego agent mission two swamp raid package and he and Brian are putting that together as I write. I made eggs and biscuits (his favorite) and we will have a 7 layer brownie dessert after breakfast. Tonight they’re going over to spend the night with Gigi. We’ll have a real birthday cake when Daddy gets home. Probably Thursday night.

It was so cute this morning when we woke up Ben—he acted all surprised at his gifts even though he picked them all out yesterday himself. He is always SO gracious and humble—much too much for a small kid, but of course I’m always so proud to witness these traits in him.

Ben is a “B” student in school and doesn’t really like to read or write. Maybe that will change. He’s going into 4th grade this coming up year. But he’s got exceptional character traits in him that I didn’t put there. God blessed him with a keen intuition and sensitivity to others. He is great with babies and puppies and little kids. He is patient with Brian and takes the time to instruct and teach him things that I don’t even take the time for.

He lets Brian play with his birthday toys first and winks at me like he knows he’s doing it just to make Brian happy. I can count on Ben pretty much to be responsible and kind—and this is consistent. He is like this ALL the time, not just on occasion.

Every body likes Ben. I know this sounds dumb because I’m obviously biased, but I don’t say things like this easily. He is invited to all the birthday parties and is asked to play more than I think is typical. Every kid loves Ben. He makes friends as easy as breathing. He’s a natural friend. He’s not necessarily a “leader” I’ve noticed—but a definite team player, collaborator, helper. He’s good at every sport. He likes every sport. He likes to play. Always wants to be outside with friends playing. He’s competitive but a good loser and a good winner. God placed in him a disposition that is nothing short of perfect IMHO for a kid who will be most likely to succeed.

Lately, I’ve been wondering if he should start “specializing” in one sport and get good at one thing. I haven’t noticed the drive or focus in him necessary to hone in on one thing. He seems to be well-rounded and good at everything. I wonder if we should help him focus and get great at something. Of course if I had to pick it would be baseball! I love baseball. Tennis and golf are smart lifetime choices, so we’ll teach him those skills. By nine, I was REALLY good at gymnastics and REALLY good at diving. But the fact of the matter is I was “burned out” on it by high school.

So maybe there is something to be said for just doing everything…learn the basics of everything and then pick later which sport to focus on. I see all these little kids doing travel baseball and all these camps and private lessons—and I worry maybe I should be putting Ben in all this stuff, like maybe it will be my fault if his natural abilities don’t “materialize” into something spectacular. I worry if I don’t do all these specialized things for him then I will be the one to have prevented him from winning the US Open or something LOL! But then again, when these kids are burned out in high school, Ben will be psyched and ready to go.

Happy Birthday Ben! You are such a gift from God to us. May He bless you and keep you safe for a long, fruitful, happy, whole and complete life. Stay close to Jesus and your Catholic faith. You are precious. We love you!