Sixteen (Wild and Precious, Part II)

Dear Aaron,

Here we are, November 1, 2020, and I’m not really sure how we got here. It feels like eons since last year at this time, and yet, it also feels like I just blinked, once. Like with the closing of my eyelids, we moved forward in time at a speed so fast, I could barely hold on. During that moment, you’ve matured, physically and emotionally, and I can honestly say this: I’m not ready for you to be sixteen.

And yet, you are.

This past year has been a little bit good and a little bit not so good, mainly thanks to the last three-quarters of the year. And I think you know why. Since March, you’ve been stuck mostly inside the house with the five of us. When schools closed and quarantining began, I don’t think you understood exactly how much the lack of social interaction would affect you. As an introvert, I didn’t think I’d be affected, and I was right. But I truly had no idea just how much of a social butterfly you are at school and other places. While you enjoyed sleeping in and spending more time on your computer (too much time, really), as time passed, you began to change, even though life didn’t seem to.

You became quiet. You became sullen. You became cranky. Quite frankly, at times, you behaved like an asshole, and I told you as much. (If your own mother can’t be honest with you, who can?)

But you’re my son, so those fits of assholery made me stop and think: What could I do to help you out of that funk?

I don’t have the answer even now. I know that asking you to walk away from the computer has brought the part of you I missed back into my life. You talk to me more about your friends, social justice issues, desks you want, painting ideas, and just the other day, you woke me up to find out how much I weighed because you wanted to know “how many moms” you could bench press.

Despite the late hour, my first thought? Welcome back, Aaron; we’ve missed you.

When your sisters turned sixteen, I introduced them to the poet, Mary Oliver, and her poem “The Summer Day.” The poem, lauded by many and quoted by even more, ends with these lovely sentences:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

I wished the girls a fine new journey around the sun, hoped that they would find peace and love and happiness in their days. I talked about ordinary circumstances and being extraordinary, and while you three are very different people, I think that I wish the same for you. Because you only have one wild and precious life, and you’re only going to be with me for so long. If I miss you now—when you’re physically in my home but emotionally distant—how will it be when you go to college and beyond? I shudder to think of those days, honestly, but I know they’re on the horizon.

So I hope you always find time to fiddle, tell me your ideas, and stop and pet the cats. I hope you are always close to your sisters and cousins and aunts. I hope you stand up for what’s right and stay loyal to your friends. I hope Walloon Lake always holds magic for you and that nutmegs in soccer come easy. I hope you keep doing all the things I’m proud of and learn from all the things I’m not proud of. But most of all, I hope you find the answer to that question,

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

I love you more than you’ll ever realize. Happiest of birthdays to you.

Image of street address by Cyrille Remady at



  1. Sandra Harrold-Torok on November 1, 2020 at 1:37 pm

    This is so loving, mostly because of its honesty.

    • Christina Consolino on November 1, 2020 at 2:20 pm

      Thanks! If there’s one thing I learned from having kids, being honest really is the way to go. Thanks for reading!

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