The Day Your Oldest Grandchild Hits 13!

It’s Mother’s Day! That’s not a revelation to anyone…well, most everyone! I noticed several men rushing into the supermarket this morning at 7:00, passing other rushing males running back out with bouquets of flowers in their hands. The revelation came late for a few, but hopefully before the “shes” woke up!

In our family, however, it’s also the birthday of our oldest grandchild, Jesse Dean Hodges. It is the first day of his emergence into teenager-dom. It culminates “birthday week” for our family: May 5 for me, May 8 for Jesse’s dad, Kevin, and May 9 for “the kid”. Hopefully, Kecia Wolfe Hodges does not feel slighted this year by sharing Mother’s day with a newly-arrived teenager.

Jesse is the reincarnation of his Granddad Wolfe. When I was a 7th grader I stood about 4’6″. I grew to 4’10” by the time I arrived in high school, easily overlooked at Maysville High School and in fear daily of being stuffed into a hallway locker. Likewise, Jesse is not a threat yet to reach something on a top shelf. He’s about 4’8″, a couple of inches ahead of his granddad’s height pace. My growth spurt didn’t come until around my junior year of high school and, suddenly, I was a lanky 5’8″!

Like his granddad, Jesse also has endless energy. Think tree-climbing, fence-bounding squirrel! I met one of his teachers about a week ago in Culver’s (Butterburger, please!). She had been his assessment testing proctor that week and mentioned the chair that Jesse was sitting in that, unfortunately, had wheels on it. In case you don’t understand, a student with limitless energy sitting in a chair with wheels is a bad idea for a testing environment.

At church camp, Jesse is known for his sudden bursts of uninhibited dancing that causes my body to ache just watching. His creativity is a reflection of his mom who used to videotape herself doing made-up monologues dressed as an old lady or an extremely pregnant twenty-something. Jesse’s creativity comes out in sudden brain bursts filled with movement and expression.

Like me now, but unlike me when I was his age, he is an avid reader, consuming books like candy. His reading level is far above most of his classmates. That can be attributed to his mom who is an elementary teacher, who has always stressed reading with her kids.

Like me, Jesse has always been involved in a church fellowship. He’s a follower of Jesus and in the midst of figuring out what that means and how it looks for a middle school kid in a world where there is limited absolute truth. The challenges ahead will be many, but he’s planted into a well-grounded family that has a good balance of guidance, loving concern, and discipline.

This summer I’ll be his camp pastor, something that causes my eyebrows to raise more than it concerns him. Can I let him be himself, not just my grandson? Can I let him be “me” five decades ago? Can I let him breakdance in the midst of singing praise music? Can I let him pass gas and not scold? I think I can, and if I become too much like a stern granddad he can straighten me out.

Happy birthday, Jesse Dean! I hope your entry into the world of teenagers is awesome. I have to admit, however, that the idea of you driving three years from now causes me to quiver!

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