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What My 9 Year Old is Teaching Me

Today my oldest child, Ryan, turns 9 years  old. It also happens to be his last day of the 3rd grade, and he’s  suffered through another entire year of being the youngest kid in his  grade. Every year it’s the same thing, “You’re only turning 9? I turn  10 next month!” He’s always a year behind everyone, but if you know  Ryan at all; you’d know that he’s not that far behind in many other  areas.

Ryan Cliff – A 3rd Grade Self-Portrait

Here is a list of things I’m  learning from my 9 year old:

  • He’s gifted to absorb and feel. He hears things going on that  many of us don’t. We jokingly call him our “emotional sponge” but that  really isn’t such a bad thing now, is it?
  • He’s always been the most thoughtful of kids. He will go out of  his way to encourage someone, and many times we find out about what  he’s done days and weeks later. I think he gets much of this from his  entire family, but he’s a great representative of the Cliff Family home  when he’s not in it. I never worry about him NOT saying thank you or  failing to apologize when it’s called for.
  • He’s not boastful, which makes him different immediately from  many of his 9 and 10 year old peers. He’s not secretive about what he’s  good at, he’s just concerned that what comes easy to him will alienate  those that aren’t good at the same things.
  • He listens first, and speaks second. I’m learning that this is  oftentimes the best way to react and live.
  • He’s creative. Don’t believe me? Well, you should see the things  he makes out of our trash. There are very few pieces of paper that  haven’t been cut, folded, and painted into some sort of magical object  (or weapon.)
  • He learns. I know everyone says that their kid ask tons of  questions, and Ryan definitely does ask questions. However, he doesn’t  ask to be cute or to prolong conversations anymore. He ask questions to  learn. He’s always learning, evaluating, and preparing for something  new and different.

I’m a proud parent of the qualities I see in my now 9 year old, and the  thought that at 9 years old we’ve reached the 1/2 way point of his time  under my roof is jarring. However, I’ve never been more excited for the  future of my oldest kid than I am today. He’s well on his way to  knowing Jesus in new and profound ways, and I’m glad that we still have  the rest of our lives to watch him grow into the man of God that I’ve  always prayed he would become.
Happy Birthday Ryan!

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.