My son’s teacher asks parents to write a letter to their child for their birthday and they read it to the class. Here’s my letter to my son Miles, on his tenth birthday.

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Miles King arrived on a cold, wintry morning. Groundhog Day, to be exact. A day when no rodent, large or small, would see its shadow as a blizzard was brewing in Indiana. Not only was it Groundhog Day, but it was also super bowl weekend. Now, as you can probably imagine, the Kings aren’t big sports fans. They did notice a lot of commotion around the big event that year as the Colts, Indiana’s football team, were hosting the big game. Because of this, the maternity ward at the hospital was an absolute ghost town! I imagine mothers were in labor, holding off their children’s births as they stayed home, glued to the TV set. Not us! We were happy to have the place to ourselves as we welcomed Miles into this world!

Miles likes to beat to his own drum and that started from before he even arrived! Babies are usually head down, or upside down while in their mother’s bellies, but Miles decided he liked to keep his head upright and therefore, really caused quite a stir when he wanted to arrive feet first. We had to change our whole birth plan, even the hospital we chose, so Miles could arrive the way he wanted to. We should have known from that moment on that Miles would be a headstrong little guy who had his own unique plan and way of doing things.

Even as a little baby, Miles always loved books. I read to him every day since he was a newborn baby. It wasn’t long until he was sitting up on his own, flipping through books and memorizing the words. Speaking of words, Miles found his voice very early, starting out with a bit of sign language and quickly took off chatting away. I believe he was speaking in sentences before he could even walk! To this day, chatting with Miles is one of my favorite things to do with him. We have the best conversations!

Yes, Miles loved books and chatting up a storm, but he always has had (and still has) the most amazing and rich imagination. When he was little, I think around two years old, I saw him holding two match box cars up to a lamp. What was he doing? He was charging their imaginary solar panels! Whenever he wanted a toy, he would cut it out of a toy catalog and play with it! Creating his own little games has always been something he’s loved to do. He also loved to create all sorts of his own swords out of cardboard. I remember he took all the push toys and wagons we had and tied them together with jump ropes to make his own train to ride on. He even got his dad to go for a few rides down the street.

He never seemed to play with toys as they were intended. This meant we also never seemed to have all the pieces to anything in our house. He liked to find his own way to play with things. For example, he would take a rubber lung from a human anatomy set and combine it with a plastic part of a pirate ship and it was suddenly something new in his eyes. My favorite toy he made was a bow and arrow set from a pencil, a rubber band and a plastic clothes hanger. I know Miles would like to be a video game designer (or is it video game sound designer? I can’t remember) when he grows up, but I think he would make a pretty awesome toy inventor!

Miles was three and half years old when his baby sister came along. He wasn’t very interested in her as a baby. He just wanted her to grow up and be a kid so they could play! She tried her very hardest to grow up as quickly as possible and I’m very proud to say that Miles is a dear friend to his sister. She loves him deeply and when asked what her favorite toy is, she says, “Miles. I love playing with him the most!” He really is an amazing big brother. He does a great job of including her and sharing with her. They have their moments of fights here and there, but they really have an awesome relationship and I’m so proud of what a great brother Miles is.

Miles grew up in Indiana for the first seven years of his life and our family loved it there. Moving to California was a really huge move for us and I will always be so blown away by Miles’ strength and maturity during that time. I’ll never forget when we got the news that Miles’ dad got a job at Apple. When we told Miles, he said, “So dad got the job at Apple, that’s in California, right? That means we would move to California?” When we told him yes, he said something that I’ll never forget, he said, “Dad, I’m going to trust you on this.” From that moment on, everything fell into place for our move. It hasn’t always been easy on him or our family, but it’s been amazing adventure and I’m so proud of how brave he was. Our whole family loves California so much!

Miles is a very unique, curious, passionate and loving person. I believe he lives with one foot in the world we are all in and another foot planted firmly in a very rich imaginary world of his own. Sometimes I try to talk to Miles and he’ll perk up, surprised that I was trying to get his attention, and I often wish I could visit the fantastic imaginary world he was just in in his mind. I’m so excited to see where that imaginative mind will lead him in his life.

I think the IB Traits that shine brightest in Miles are being an inquirer and principled. He’s always working towards learning something new and he takes great pride in mastering advanced concepts. Following rules and doing the right thing with integrity is very important to him as well. He doesn’t always get recognized for doing the right thing because his actions are usually quiet and sometimes go unnoticed, but his mom and dad see them and are so proud. Once again, I’m so excited to see where these wonderful traits will lead him in life.

Miles King, you are turning ten and my mind is swimming full of so many amazing memories with you. I look back at all our years together, me learning to be a mom and you finding your way, and I’m just so thankful for everything that makes you you. Happy Tenth Birthday Miles, you are an awesome kid and we love you!