Justin Ricklefs


10 Qualities That Will Serve My 10 Year Old Well

Our second-oldest turned 10 today.



Our oldest is knocking on the teenage door and our second is a decade old. It’s cliché because it’s true, it’s flying by.

Another stretch like this and we have twenty-somethings. We were twenty-somethings when they were born.

Instead of hunkering down and fretting about these years disappearing, we really are believing that the best is yet to come.


But before we launch into this second decade with Addi, and before I forget, here are 10 things I want to document about her life.

  1. Keep Giving Boys the Stink Eye – I about died laughing. During the middle of her Christmas program, Addi turned around and glared a hole through the boy behind her. “What was that about?” we asked afterwards. “He was jacking around, singing off key and being annoying.” I’ve seen that stink eye before, you get it from your mom. In love, she gives it to me when I’m being an idiot or dishonest. That look can cut people down, but it also can serve people well and bring them back to reality. And for my sake, it will keep the boys where they belong – away from you.
  2. Solve Problems and Lead – there was a short blog post I read a few weeks ago that said our biggest teaching opportunity at schools and at home is not to encourage memorization but instead to encourage our kids to learn how to solve problems and lead people. Addi is a natural born leader, it’s written deep on a strand of her DNA. Our hope is that she uses this gift to solve problems and lead people.
  3. Do Hard Things – Whether it’s struggling through a solo in front of her class and a few hundred parents or sticking up for a friend that’s getting picked on at school, Addi hasn’t shied away from tough stuff very often. She’s a living example that being brave doesn’t always mean an absence of fear. And it also doesn’t always equate to popularity. Instead it often means being afraid but doing it anyway. Doing hard things typically leads to sacrifice and service for the benefit of others. Sure, it changes the one doing the hard stuff but more importantly, it changes, inspires or helps others.
  4. Quiet Confidence is Contagious – at a little church event a couple weeks ago, a sweet friend of ours described Addi as possessing a “quiet confidence”. Not an in-your-face-I’m-better-than-you confidence but a subtle, humble, consistent confidence that keeps moving things forward. That kind of confidence is contagious, it catalyzes others into action.
  5. Get Sick More Often – Addi is a hard-charger. The strong parts of her personality manifest themselves in positive and negative ways. One challenge we have with her is that the strength sometimes produces hardness or coldness. We’ve joked with her that we hope she gets sick more often. Because when she’s sick, the most tenderhearted, polite, cuddly little thing appears from behind the tough exterior.
  6. Her Five Point to Greatness – It’s more infrequent that we’d like to admit, but one night around our dinner table, I relayed a thought I had heard on a podcast that day. “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Others have said, “show me your friends and I’ll show you your future”. However you want to say it, you get the point. The people around you matter. A great deal. Who you choose to surround yourself with matters. A great deal. We asked each kid to name their five. Addi rattled off her five in no time, and Brooke and I smiled. Her five friends point to greatness.
  7. Tell Your Own Story – It really is incredible how different our five kids are. Personalities, abilities, interests. As the second-born, Addi gets the unfair older sister shadow cast on her at times. Firstborns, as a general rule and ours is no exception, are buttoned-up, well-thought-of and engaging. Part of the reason Addi is so strong-willed and determined, we believe, is that she’s set out to tell her own story. Of course she loves being Kamden’s little sister, but she’s stepping into simply being Addi.
  8. Shine in Competition – It will be fun to look back on this piece in a few years. We’ve told her all along, as it relates to sports, that we’ll support her in whatever she wants to play. But we’ll never force her to play. I really don’t think I’m biased when I say this, Addi is an exceptional athlete. Likely the best athlete in our family. It’s natural to her and she has the same drive as her mom, to be great at whatever she’s doing at that moment. Of course it’s fun as a parent to have a kid that’s good at something, but the most fun we have watching her play sports is when she does something awesome and responds with that same quiet confidence. Scores a goal and runs back to midfield without any celebration for example. She shines on a court or a field.
  9. Adventure Awaits – She’ll be our second to experience the 10 year old trip we learned about from the book “Love Does.” Her choice of location? Portland, OR. So in May, adventure awaits. Her older sister went east to the Smoky Mountains two years ago. She’s going northwest to chase waterfalls.
  10. Keep Praying – We live in a tough, judgmental, scary, broken world. One of Addi’s good friends from school lost a cousin to cancer last week. She told us the story late one night before bed, and Brooke and I wept thinking of the hurt, pain and confusion of a 4th grade girl that had to watch her cousin be buried. As Addi recounted the story, she told us that at recess that day, she and a friend (one of the five, no surprise) went to a quiet corner of the playground and prayed for this friend and her family. As strong, determined and confident as Addi is, her temptation will be to will her way through life. Be tough, grit your way through it and don’t show pain. But she’s at her best when she realizes her limitations and shortcomings, and prays for wisdom, kindness and help for others.

There is a beautiful story unfolding in our second 10 year old. I’m grateful to play a role in it.


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