Jace Ditmyer, 11, and I have a long and pretty unusual history. I first met him a decade ago, right after he turned a year old. It was November 2009 and I was writing a cover story for Time Magazine, about the first decade of the new millennium, entitled “The Decade from Hell.” The cover image was actually of Jace, a baby, crying like hell, (presumably about that troubled decade).
The cover made a bit of a splash back then, not the least because of Jace’s image. (I was often asked if Jace was somehow hurt in the making of the cover. He was not. He was just a good cryer.) I turned the piece into a slim volume. And after that I mostly forgot about the article and about Jace, too. But of course Jace was living his life, and growing up.
And then, one day earlier this year, I received this message on Facebook:
“Hello Mr. Serwer, I would like to speak with you regarding a follow up piece to The Decade From Hell. My son, Jace, was the baby on the cover of that edition. I look forward to hearing from you. Please feel free to call.
Thank you, Tamara”
I messaged Tamara (pronounced like “camera”) Flannagan-Ditmyer back and ultimately several months later, Jace, Tamara, and I met for a chat. And Jace is a great. A sweet, poised, guileless 11-year-old, eyes wide open and enjoying the world.
What’s it like to have been on the cover of Time magazine when you’re 1 year old? “My brother always brags to me about how old he is and what he gets that's better than me,” Jace told me, “and then sometimes I say to him, ‘Well, I'm more famous than you.’”
When he got older, did people believe it was him on the cover?
“I was in third grade, and then I started telling people and nobody believed me at first,” Jace says. “Only the people that I know that are in my building and know me a lot, since preschool, know that it's true.”
What is Jace into? Well, he has an iPhone, plays Minecraft, and likes the Barcelona soccer team. He’s a fan of the Beatles and Imagine Dragons. For books he’s been digging into the “Spy School” series. And along with others of his generation, he’s also concerned about climate change, and “the polar bears and the little cubs living on ice caps” that are melting. In other words, a normal 11-year-old boy.
So Jace, how was your first decade on earth? “Great,” he says. “My life has been good. I've lived it well.” The past decade on a scale from 1-10? “That's hard. Nine or an eight,” he says.
That’s good to hear, Jace. I hope you have the same take on life 10 years from now as well.
Andy Serwer is editor-in-chief of Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter: @serwer.