Monday, February 10, 2014

To my son, on his fifth birthday:

Little Bird:
Happy Birthday! FIVE!
You sir, are like a new kid this year. It's been exciting and fun, and heart-wrenching and bitter-sweet.

The biggest development of the year is that you started school in earnest. I never thought I'd send you to full day school before Kindergarten, but it has been a truly wonderful thing for you. At four, you were already reading and writing and doing addition and subtraction, and a mistake with your previous preschool meant we needed an alternative. I knew you'd be unhappy doing nothing, and with my work schedule the way it is, I knew I couldn't devote enough time to your learning. So, we entered you into a full-day Montessori school. It has been such a great experience. You are reading so well independently, your math skills are fantastic, you have made great strides with your anger, and have just blossomed in your learning and your thirst for knowledge.

This year, from four to five, you have learned a lot about keeping your temper, reasoning things out, and understanding consequences. Sometimes those lessons are hard, but you are growing up into a sweet and responsible kid. All the baby is out of you now, and I'm learning to see glimpses of who you will turn into. I absolutely adore all that you are.

Some ways to describe you:
Imaginative--you are in one of my very favorite stages, where you like to take me along on long, detailed imaginings and "what ifs." Made up animals, inventions, adventures--they are all happening in that big, beautiful brain of yours and often come spilling out in a flood of excitement. You have become increasingly talkative this year. If I ever have the chance to be alone with you, I can rarely get a word in edge wise as you excitedly tell me about your ideas.

Sweet--You are sweet as sugar! Your love language is definitely words of affirmation and acts of service. If I tell you what a sweet kid you are, if I do something helpful for you, or offer to make you something special, you light up in a way that is uniquely yours and pretty much makes all the dull/hard/exhausting moments of being a mom completely melt away. You can smile up at me and tell me I am the best mom ever in a way that just gets deep down inside and tells me how much you really believe it. You offer to brush my hair or hold my hand and tell me things you like about me. Admittedly, we butt heads from time to time, but so often it's because I forget that you need first and foremost to know that you are loved and to understand that I have your best interests at heart.

Perceptive--You have a way of reading and reciprocating emotions. This is sometimes the biggest blessing, and sometimes the heaviest of curses. When we get it right, when I am engaged and attentive and loving, you return so much more back to me. When I am tired, short tempered, or overwhelmed, you have the ability to amplify those emotions until both of us are crying in time-out. I've often said that your sister made me a mom and you have made me a better mom, and in a lot of ways this is still true. You are the one that has me reading parenting books, asking friends for advice, and overanalyzing my actions and plans. And that's okay, because as you have always done, you have helped to change me into something better than I could have hoped to be without you, and the moments when we get it right make all the rough patches a blessing.

Smart--oh, child. You are smart. When I started you in preschool this year, I told your teacher that you were already reading and doing basic math, that I had wanted to start you in Kindergarten early, but was unable. She "Uh-huh"ed me, as I assume many teachers are used to being told by parents how their children are exceptional. A week into school though, she asked me to stick around after school because we needed to talk about you. She showed me all you had done, that you'd blown through the books and spelling she had offered you, and that she was shocked at how far ahead you were. "Kierra," she emphasized, "he is SO. SMART. I don't know if I've ever had a 4 year old like him!" I didn't say "I told you so," but I sure did think it. :) You latch onto knowledge. You're still little, but your learning is big, and I truly hope that will always be the case.

Strong-willed--There is nothing that is true in this world, unless you say it is so. I recall an argument you and I had this year about whether the sun was shining. I, of course, could clearly see that it was. But you, on the other hand, had some reason to disagree. I finally relented, and to be honest, the words, "Okay, boss, if you say so..." are kind of common in our discussions this past year. It's been known to cause a few screaming matches between you and your sister, or you and your school buddy, this inability to change course of yours. However, I hope it turns into a tenacious desire to achieve your goals and to find the answers to the questions you'll ask.

Compassionate--You are really learning to have empathy for those around you. Though you never like the lesson, and you have a tendency (don't we all) to lay blame with others, you are learning the value and healing of a true apology. You love animals and babies and are gentle with them and you think about how others would feel in various situations. I love your thoughtful, gentle heart and your intense sense of justice.

Cantankerous--Oh, my darling. You are still my little "Grumpy Gus." A lack of sleep brings out a monster in you, and you are, at times, the poster child for "the Hangries," but this year you have also learned a lot how to balance yourself and work through those big emotions. Yet another sign, I reckon, that you are becoming a "big boy."

HILARIOUS--This is probably a by-product of your intellect, but you know how to work with words, play to your audience, and have a great sense of timing. And you love it. You LOVE making people crack up. Admittedly, much of your humor revolves around bathroom humor still, but you also have a sharp little wit that is as surprising at times as it is hysterical.

It's been an amazing year. And YOU are an amazing kid! I'm so grateful for everything you are and the chance to be your mom. I love you, my sweet Little Bird!

Love Always,


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