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Emmett turns 13

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It’s my son Emmett’s 13th birthday today, and what I love most is that Casey, his 16-year-old sister, baked him a strawberry shortcake.

She gave myriad reasons: She likes baking. She likes eating. She was done with homework. But I know—and she knows—the No. 1 reason she baked Emmett a cake is because she loves him, and because they’re traveling through life together, and because they share a genuinely powerful bond, and because Emmett would never let any harm come Casey’s way, and Casey would never let any harm come Emmett’s way.

As soon as the clock hit midnight, the wife and I found ourselves parents of two teenagers. Which may well sound awful, but it’s anything but. My kids are tremendous company. They’re spirited and fun and eager and open-minded and chatty and willing to talk about most subjects.

At 13, Emmett (as Casey has done, too) feels more and more like a sidekick, less and less like a little boy I need to entertain. We play basketball together three or four nights per week—full-court games of one on one that leave us both sweaty and happy. Emmett is in his second-straight year of wearing a jersey to school every single day (The one above is a Vince Ferragano CFL dud), and his pleasure brings me pleasure. He’s a snuggler with his mother; a cooking sidekick with his mother; an excellent student who knows tons about robotics and putting things together. Later this week we will be (for the sixth-straight year) hosting the fund-raising haunted house at the local elementary school, and Emmett can’t wait. Yeah, it’s fun scaring kids. But the best part is doing it together—setting up, writing a script, somehow making it all work out.

Emmett isn’t overly competitive. He doesn’t need to be the best. He is 0% bully. He doesn’t mock kids and rarely speaks ill of others. He tells us quite often that he appreciates living in a low-pressure household. He’s the best hugger I’ve ever seen. He tries every food imaginable. He dreams of going to Africa.

I’m so lucky.

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