I have known you for seventeen years today. When we first met, you didn't know much of anything. Although I knew a bunch more than you that first day, you've given me many reasons to be grateful since then.
Your mom and I were married seven years before we decided to meet you. People told us countless times during those years, "You need to be parents. You'll experience a kind of love you can't imagine." And, the people were right; unless you are parents, no one can imagine the kind of love you have brought into our lives.
So, thank you.
Thank you for allowing us to use you as our personal guinea pig, trying out what we learned from our own parents, what we'd read in books and articles, and what we made up on the spot.
Thank you for allowing us to make mistakes and still loving us, regardless.
Thank you for showing us, through your actions, that you thrive when you know your boundaries, in spite of telling us, we're being unfair.
Thank you for working hard, persevering, and finding successes in life, because, true or not, we can't help but think we had a hand in it.
Thank you for appreciating your successes because we let you experience your failures.
Thank you for saying, "I love you" every single day (although you often say it while looking down at your phone), for giving us hugs (and actually using your arms at times), and for giving us kisses (really cheek-touches wile smooching the air). it shows that you learned to respect family.
Thank you for being such a great role model to your little sister.
Thank you for challenging us respectfully (at times), because it shows you have a mind of your own and feel comfortable enough to state your beliefs (love those Power Point presentations you make to emphasize your positions).
Thank you for allowing us to experience a whole new facet of our lives, to learn parenting. It's been quite a journey and we're constantly learning along the way. And, we couldn't have asked for a better "teacher."
We love you. Happy Birthday!
-Love, Dad (and Mom)
image courtesy of http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=80234&picture=thank-you-text