Dear Jonas:

I am writing this because I am very proud of you.  Today, during your first basketball game of the season, you displayed great determination, teamwork, and sportsmanship.  Though down the entire game, you never lost hope or fought any less.  You were everywhere on that court!  You were clutch when your team needed you and the W was yours.  I am not proud because you won (although that’s a plus, isn’t it?), but because you are maturing and learning and played one heck of a game.  You have come a long way from last season, right?   

I remember when you were a wee-little, round-faced, toothless baby, so when you were playing I thought to myself, “Dang, he’s getting so big!”  I used to rock you to sleep while dancing to Justin Timberlake.  But time never stops, and growing older is a part of life.  Right now is the time when who you will one day be is starting to form.  I know you have heard it all before, but work hard.  Explore as many things as you can.  Read any and all books you can.  Do your best to not lose people’s trust.  Meet as many new people as possible.  Never make fun of or ignore someone because they seem different; everyone has something amazing to offer and teach.  Appreciate the fact that your family is able to provide you with so many things and so much love.  Take advantage of the chess tournaments, the basketball games, the wrestling matches.         

Remember what that chess director said the day of your first tournament? 

“You’re a very good player, Jonas.  But sloooow down.  Look at all of your pieces before making a move.”

That dude was absolutely right!

#1:  Slow down, Jonas.  There is no need to grow up so fast. We have always treated you like an adult, therefore we have always expected a lot from you.  But after all, Jonas, you are just a kid, only ten.  I know that it can feel like the pressure is on, but don’t forget to just be a kid.  Not everything needs to be a life lesson.  Not every little moment in your life is going to shape your future.  Have fun!  Laugh out loud!  Jump out at me from behind the fridge (although you know you can’t ever scare me)!  Break dance at the parties, CrazyLegsMendez!  Be yourself!  One day life won’t be so careless, since being an adult is such serious business (so they say, I wouldn’t know).        

#2:  You are one of the smartest people I have ever known, despite only being ten.  But, my favorite and only nephew, you have got a lot more learning to do.  The learning is never ending!  One of the best ways to learn, however, is to look at the bigger picture, know what you are playing with and what those around you are working with.  Look at all of your pieces first.  Try your best to think before you act, and in the long run it will pay off.  Trust me.  I haven’t lived too much, but if there’s one piece of advice I can give you, it’s that one. 

Live the rest of your life like you played today’s game – with thoughtfulness, dedication, and a whole lot of heart – and you can’t lose.  You are an amazing little guy and there is nothing you can’t do.

 <3,

Jax

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