April 26, 2018

Today, on your 11th birthday, I can’t help but remember you as a baby. All those personality traits we noted in infancy have taken deeper root now and are coming to define you. For instance, you do nothing half-heartedly. When you were tiny this looked like long stretches of sleep and a big appetite. As you grew into toddler hood it looked like a long attention span, sometimes playing with a single toy for hours.

We saw all the hallmarks of a strong will—resisting getting dressed or changed, refusing to eat (went on a hunger strike at 20 months when Jude was born), long and angry crying spells when things didn’t go your way. We were surprised to see such determination in a tiny person. But there it was. And there it would remain.

Today, that determination shows up on the soccer field. You push hard through each game—in the rain, in the heat, in the cold, when there are no subs, and when your toenails turn black and fall off  (Ew!)

You scored your first hat trick this year and your first left-footed penalty kick.

This determination also shows up in your goal-setting, calendar- keeping, journaling ways. You’re well on your way to reaching your 100 book goal for the year. You’re currently breezing through your 25th, and you’ve got several more in queue. At 9, you read through your entire Bible.  This morning you unwrapped a weekly planner and a journal; two items that topped your wish list. 

Your determination has led you to sit at the piano for long intervals, plunking out a familiar song by ear or rehearsing difficult stretches in your assigned pieces.  Your piano teacher is impressed with your determination. You’ve not yet finished two years of lessons, but she’s kept you on an accelerated path, even pushing you to compete at Spring Auditions last month.

That character trait we observed in your infancy has led you to spend hours at a time reading books, writing stories, drawing comics, declaring (and following through with) sugar strikes. It keeps you shoveling heavy snow, wakes you early in the morning, and prevents your napping during the day. 


Besides this iron will, you have great depth of feeling and a poetic bent to your mind. You love words and the history of words, making you a phenomenal speller. Your mind is a storehouse of quotes and lyrics.

You love theater and everything dramatic. Tomorrow you’ll emcee the talent show at your school because you’re always happy to be in front of an audience! Dramatic re-interpretations of books and movies are acted out without warning in every room and at any given moment, filling our house with noise. Lots and lots of noise.

You’re eagerly pushing for greater independence. Can you teach me how to make dinner? Can I ride my bike to school by myself next year? What age can I drive again? Can I go by myself? When can I get a job? A phone?

This determination of yours works very well when you’ve set the goal, but it has most certainly not been our friend when we’ve set the goal. We’ve got a lot of iron wills in this family. Truly, there is not an irresolute one in the bunch. Which is why “someone is going to have to give” ranks up there in my top 5 sayings, along with “who is going to make peace?”  

At 11, I look at you and think, “Only 7 more years and then we send you out half-baked into this world?! So many things I want to teach you still.” I recognize in you that same independent spirit of my youth, that same rebel heart, the decided mind and the sense that you know best. I know that once harnessed and trained this spirit will serve you well, but that without instruction it will only be bent on vanity and folly. 

When dad and I were first married, Papa would often jokingly say, “I want you to know we did our best, Charisse. We really tried.” It all  makes so much sense now! Parents really want to teach their kids. We want to shape them—save them from the disasters and mistakes of our own youth and make you better than we were ourselves.

Just like the pastor writing to the Hebrew congregation, we often think, “why are you still drinking milk? You’re old enough for meat now.” Because you’re a wordsmith, I’ve tried and tried to win you with my reasoning and words. But some lessons are only learned through experience.  And they’re remembered the better for it. And so on your birthday, I once again relinquish my claims on your life. You’re not really mine. You belong to the Lord. I can’t make you hear, really hear my words or follow them.

We earthly parents aren’t equipped to fully form you, not when we’re still under-baked ourselves. That job is best left to your Heavenly Father—the one who knows the end from the beginning, the one who keeps count of every hair on your head, the one who completes every good work he has begun, and the one who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” (Psalm 103:8) He is the infinitely patient one, working all things out according to his good plans. We entrust you to him. And we marvel that in those good plans, he knit us together as a family, intending to form us all along the way. Happy 11th, Asher!


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  • Kate April 26, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    Happy Birthday Asher! Beautiful post Charisse 😊

  • Carole April 26, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    Beautifully written, Charisse. You have captured the heart of motherhood. I am so thankful for God’s promise to Christian mothers in Isaiah 55:10-11.

    • Charisse Compton May 13, 2018 at 6:06 am

      I love that verse (promise) too. Thanks, Carole. And happy mother’s day!