Thanksgiving Guest Columnist Leslie Long: Thanks, Boys, For Always Being Yourselves

Leslie Long, a friend of mine from high school and mother of two sons, is an Associate Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi. She is also a photographer and travel writer (,

Dear Ian and Erik,

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for things both big and small. At 6’ and 6’1”, you are the big things I’m grateful for. While I loved your younger years, I so enjoy the adults (or in Erik’s case, at 17, the almost adult) you’ve become.

Two boys, almost seven years apart in age, you are and always have been individuals. I used to say that the only thing you had in common was blond hair. Now, as I’d always hoped, you also share some other things.

Having come from a quiet family of girls, I was a little worried about being a mother of boys. Would they be wild, hard to control? Ian, being my first son, you laid those fears to rest the moment I saw your cute little face. Lying in the hospital bed while you slept, looking at your tiny features, I knew I had nothing to worry about —and your early years were kind of a dream.

You were so curious about the world, and once you could talk, you asked some of the most intriguing questions. You were always trying to figure out the relationship between yourself and the world. While sitting in the car at five years of age, you said:

“If we were going the other way, you would be over there and I would be over here. If we were going the other way, the back would be the front and the front would be the back.”

You were a model citizen on the playground and in elementary school, too. Spirited, yes. Artistic, too. And naturally athletic.

Erik, when you were a baby, my friend Diane said you looked like a Viking, with your big round open face and happy smile. You always had a talent for figuring out relationships between people and from the stroller, you’d stop neighbors on the street to ask about other family members. Coming from a child who looked too young to even talk, this amazed people. You have always had an innate ability for getting along with people of all ages. You’re comfortable in the world and every day, your optimism is a gift every day. I’ve enjoyed your impressive vocabulary.

You, Erik, shared my love of travel, and were always up for adventure. While Ian liked sleepaway camp, you preferred exploring. Five years ago, while walking through a colorful market in Guatemala, you turned to me and said, “Now this is a whole lot better than camp!”

Dad and I always appreciated the differences between you two, but sometimes those differences made it harder for you to be close with each other. Ian liked to be around town, while Erik enjoyed travel and the city. Ian was a varsity athlete, while Erik had a lengthy skateboarding phase. Ian was completely involved with his friends.

Now there’s more common ground. Ian, you’ve graduated from college and you’re living on your own, enjoying a successful career. Erik, you’re a senior in high school and have chosen varsity track and football as your sports. Fitness, basketball, fishing and golf are among your dual pursuits. You’re both smart, responsible and ever interesting to me. Along with Dad, there’s no one I’d rather be with than the two of you.

Thanks for your similarities and your differences, too. And above all, thanks for always being yourselves.


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