Xander at 18

Xander’s birthday wish list:

  • a recurve bow
  • a plastic trombone
  • a skateboard
  • a snare drum
  • a new unicycle

As you can see, he’s in no danger of taking life too seriously. We bought him the recurve bow and my sister indulged him with a plastic trombone which is a real, actual instrument occasionally used in marching bands. As you’d expect, Xander immediately downloaded trombone scale charts, watched YouTube videos and now walks around the house at odd hours playing popular songs on his shiny red trombone. And he shoots arrows too.

This is Xander. He constantly chases new skills and somehow keeps up on his 37 (and counting hobbies). Every day he visits khanacademy.org for the math challenge of the day and watches science and history videos for fun. And since he’s eighteen and next year we won’t have him home for his birthday (sniff, sob) I’m writing a little more about him today.

Xander’s Birthday 2017 from Michelle Lehnardt on Vimeo.

Sometime, most of the time, life with Xander feels like stepping into a comic strip. He’s Calvin, and the super-smart kid from Foxtrot and Pigpen from Peanuts rolled into one. Actually, Pigpen looks like a neat freak next to Xander.

He’s had a spectacular year and a hard year. There’s a funny phenomenon when you have a string of successes– a few people take it upon themselves to ‘humble’ you and they’ll flat out tell you they are intent on bringing you down a notch. Poor Xander. He’s doing the best he can with a lot of responsibility and there’s always someone ready to tell him he’s not quite good enough.

The primary tasks of the Student Body President at Skyline are to help with every activity and befriend every student. It’s a vague description and impossible to fully accomplish. But Xander runs to and fro painting signs, judging talent shows, cheering at swim meets. Even though Xander is a true introvert, getting to know every student remains his favorite part of the job. Talking to people one on one feels easy.  But he knows no matter how many people he talks to at lunch or waves to in the halls there will always be someone he misses, someone he offends when his head is turned. Still, hopefully he makes a difference. People really matter to Xander (even if he does need to come home and hide from everyone occasionally).

Now for the questions everyone asks: After graduation (and it looks like he’ll graduate!), Xander plans on spending the summer at home, welcoming Hans home on July 5th (!!!) and leaving on his own mission in mid-August. His call should arrive near the beginning of May so stay tuned. After his mission he plans to study engineering at the University of Utah. Yes, his brothers have all gone to BYU but Xander loves home and what dorm room could hold all his instruments and hobbies?

Xander’s birthday weekend included dancing in an assembly, the Sweetheart’s Dance where he ripped a 12″ hole in his pants (good thing we were chaperoning and Erik had extra pants in his car), playing his viola in the youth session of Stake Conference on his birthday and our annual dry ice/pellet gun/diet coke fountain/sparkler extravaganza. Xander’s birthday was Super Bowl Sunday and you can spy Erik watching the game in the video.

As the evening wound up, Mary and I began baking cupcakes. As you may recall, we’re kind of good at churning out hundreds of cupcakes on short notice. We planned to deliver the treats to Skyline at lunchtime on Monday the 6th just like we’d done for Hansie’s 18th birthday.

But the next morning as I was just starting to frost the 485 little cakes, Xander said, “Please don’t bring those to school.” I guess he hadn’t noticed the trays lining the counter before then?

For a moment I thought about getting mad, but I simply said, “OK, I won’t.”

And then he left his sack lunch on the counter and I had to deliver it to the school at lunch anyway.

After school, Mary set up a table in front of the house and painted a sign reading, “FREE cupcakes.” I frosted cupcakes as quickly as I could and she handed them out to the junior high kids walking home, all the preschool moms lined up in front of our house and finally, the elementary kids walking home. People took them one in each fist, by the plateful, by the trayful. Mary said many of the moms cried and couldn’t believe she wouldn’t accept payment. When they asked, “Why are you giving these away?” she replied, “Because we think you’re pretty great.”

Loading up several plates for his friends, Xander watched from a distance, simply enjoying the happy chaos in front of our house. It was better this way, Xander never wanted to be the center of attention for his birthday.

And next year, when we’re missing Xander on his birthday and his larger-than-life personality, we’ll do exactly the same thing. But maybe we’ll bump it up to 600 cupcakes.


January 24, 2017
February 22, 2017



  1. ellen patton

    February 16, 2017

    I think every day at your house is a great day!!

  2. Karen

    February 20, 2017

    Happy birthday, Xander! I’m so happy I got to meet you in October. Your school is lucky to have you!

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