My heart is so full of you right now, I feel like I want to write you a thousand poems. I am almost shaking, starting this birthday letter.
I just don't want to forget a single thing.
You are five, you turned five yesterday and to celebrate, you handed your grandma the first slice of cake, and then all of us could have thrown down our forks and eaten you, instead of the cake. You are just that sweet. Every day, it seems, I ask you in my most mournful voice, "Where did my baby Kid A go?" And you say, gleefully, wickedly, "He's GONE!" And I smile, and say, "I guess I wouldn't want you to stay little for the rest of your life. It would be weird." And your eyes light up and you laugh because it is very silly, to think of you staying little for the rest of your life.
(Secretly, though, I'm thinking of trying to find a way to make it happen.)
And yet, yesterday, after we went to the waterslides (the WATERSLIDES!) for your birthday, you told me that you aren't going to ride on the Black Hole slide (where it's very, very dark) until you're thirty-three! I was stoked! I won't have to worry about you getting stuck in the dark, watery slide for so many years! YES!
What shall I say about you? We could talk about your reading, and how you're so, so good now and you will be devouring books before the year is out. Or we could talk about your deep love for your friends, the ones who live in our community, and the one friend you idolize because he's SEVEN YEARS OLD. Sometimes you so honestly believe the things that your seven-year-old friend tells you that I have to work really, really hard to convince you that I do know more than him. There is no were-wolf at the Land. And I know. "But," you say. "My FRIEND told me. And he's seven."
"Yeah," I say, "And I'm twenty-seven. I'm twenty years older than him and I know more. So there."
But it's just that you're so incredibly social. And it's not in a I'm-going-to-talk-to-everyone-a-mile-a-minute-and-entertain-people kind of way. You pretty much refuse to perform. You're social in a I-love-my-friends-so-much-that-life-is-not-worth-living-if-they're-not-available-to-play-when-I-want-to-play kind of way. I've had to scratch my head lately to figure out what makes you tick. I want to know how I can draw out the best possible you, and I think that what I've come up with, what your essence is, is hospitality. Try to get you to play around the house on your own and I end up with a sulky puddle. But tell you that you can invite your friends over for a snack and you ERUPT! Smiles, songs, you are so happy! You long to invite people in, want to have them come on over for a popsicle! Come on over for breakfast! You want to bring our extra food up to the Big House so everyone can have some.
You want to share everything you have.
It's a good way to be. Your Superstar Daddy pointed out to me that Leaf loves guitars because he loves music. You love guitars because your dad loves guitars, and its a way to connect with him. Similarily, YaYa loves drawing because she loves to make pictures, but you have begun to draw because your friends love to draw.
We got you a skateboard for your birthday. There are no words to describe the expression on your face when I rolled it toward you. And I believe in you, son, that you can learn to do this. Heck, you could probably even fly if you wanted to. I'm scared, a little, yes, okay, I'm scared! But more, I'm glad to see you try to do tricks, to try to conquer the world on a little board on wheels.
So let's see. This year you learned a lot of things. Mostly how to run around outside and play in different kinds of forts. But this year you also: moved to bunk beds, started swimming with more motions that are at least vaguely swim-like, learned to write, planted seeds with me and then transplanted the baby plants, learned to play hacky-sac, and gave me about a thousand hugs.
Which is the best of all. Your affection has grown and grown, and your dad and I are the richest people in the world with your love. You like to give love on your own terms, certainly, and you can be mind-numbingly melancholy at times. But... but.
Your love, your snuggles, the hugs and kisses and the way you sit beside me with your hand resting on my arm sometimes, they are all like waves that crash onto a dry shore again, and again, and again, until it is wet, wet, soaked, even, and I think this is the gift that you have for the world.
Happy, happy birthday, dear one.
Photo credit: Photos # 1 and 3 are Chinua's and #2 and 4 are mine.