It's not that you used the word "boobs" to test out fonts on the powerpoint project you were working on in History class, it's how hard you teacher laughed when he told me about it.

Because that's the effect you have on people. Things bounce off of you and change on their way back to everyone else they reach. They're softened and distorted and askew and in every way made better by having touched you.

God knows I am.

It's not that you worship Eminem despite my most sincere (and hypocritical) protests, it's that when you get the fishtank you've always wanted for your birthday, you named those tiny little fish who help you fall asleep at night Marshall and Mathers. It's not that you were so pissed that I wouldn't let you sit with your friends at junior high school orientation, it's that you couldn't stop laughing at me for forgetting to wash my drawn in mustache off my face before we got there.

How far your grow from me is always relative to how close you need to be to me. Every time you push, you simultaneously pull. You are as ready to grow up as I am to let you, and you want to reach this next level in your life as much as I am anxious to watch you grab your life and live it.

It's not how hard you cringed while we sat on your bedroom floor before dawn this morning, surrounding a little, flaming birthday cake, singing Happy Birthday to you in grossly distorted keys, it's that afterward you crawled around the circle of your family, hugging and kissing each one of us, even your big brother whom you forget in that moment is a total dee-bag nerf-herder.

It's not that you in every way remind me so much of myself that I hurt for you sometimes, because I know what being the kind of person we are does to people like us and all I can pray is that I did better by you than was done by me, it's that you in every way remind me so much of myself sometimes that I thank god for you, because I know how easy it is to forget what being a person like we are means we can be, and all I can do is pray that you will never forget the wonder that you are.

But you haven't forgotten. And I think you're rubbing off on all of us.

And thank god for that.

Happiest eleventh birthday, my angel. Thanks for picking me.