Friday, July 14, 2006

Dear The Kid,

Today you turn five. I’m fairly certain that’s impossible, but I checked your birth certificate and it confirms that you were indeed born on this very day in 2001.


I’m sure that you’ll have heard the story of your birth a million times before you’re old enough to read this, so I’ll skip over the details here and simply sum it up with these five words: Fourteen hours with no drugs. Trust me, THAT really did hurt me more than it hurt you. There were no complications with your birth, but one minor hangup: you were trying to come out crooked. Or, more accurately, off center. You were a little to the right which kept me from dilating fully on the left, and you were stuck for a couple hours, repeatedly banging your head into the right side of my cervix. Oddly enough, this particular navigation problem continues to plague you, and you run into walls, furniture, and doorjambs on a fairly regular basis. But just when I think I’ve never seen anyone who has so much trouble maneuvering through an open doorway, I run into a wall myself and am reminded that this is a trait you inherited from me.

Another trait of mine? You, my love, are a voracious reader. Or, since you can’t actually read yet, at least a voracious page turner and picture viewer. A few weeks ago you asked if we could please, please, please read two bedtime stories instead of just one. We were in the middle of a late dinner and I was concerned that we wouldn’t have time before bed for one story, let alone two. I don’t remember the occasion now, but on this particular evening you were being allowed a very unusual treat: dessert in the form of chocolate pudding. So eager for those two bedtime stories were you that you actually set down your spoon mid-pudding and “bargained” for an extra story by offering to give up your dessert. And last week you begged and pleaded with your grandma to take you to Barnes & Noble because you “haven’t been to a book store in FOREVER.” So exciting was the resulting book shopping spree, you still haven’t stopped talking about it. For years, every night about 2 minutes after tucking you into bed, I’ve heard the click of your lamp turning on and the pitter-patter of you little feet smuggling contraband from your bookshelf to your bed. You fall asleep with an arm wrapped around a book almost as often as you do with an arm wrapped around your treasured and tattered baby, Jammie the Sea Otter.


It may seem silly, but this is how I know you are my son. (This, and that whole pregnancy and birthing process thing.) It is a wide spread phenomenon among parents to compete in the race for genetics points. Arguments over whose nose little Tommy really has have been known to cause years-long feuds with in-laws. There is some latent biological instinct that drives us to “claim” our children and to identify - to ourselves and others - physical evidence of this claim. And reading? That is definitively mine. There will be no claims laid by your father’s side of the family on that one. You read, therefore you are my child. You are the most amazing person I know, and it gives me endless pleasure to see a little piece of me in you.

You are also the sweetest person I know. You’ve always been a little softie, but lately you’ve kicked it up a notch and are bordering on pure saccharine. You will often pause in the middle of lassoing a band of imaginary outlaws, just to give me a hug and tell me that you love me. You will often save your last two pieces of candy to share with me, sometimes carrying them around in your pocket for the last hour you’re with your dad, and proudly presenting them to me when Daddy drops you off. I love these little gifts and am so impressed with your generosity that I hardly notice the lint stuck all over them.


After much debate, your dad and I decided to wait until next fall to enroll you in kindergarten. There were several reasons behind that decision, but rest assured, none of them was your lack of vocabulary. The most amazingly adult words come out of your mouth sometimes, and I have no idea where they come from. Yesterday, you dropped “paleontologist” into our dinner conversation. And you often use words and phrases like “in comparison to” and “therefore” and “I was not aware of that. Please tell me more about that.”

Just when I think you must be channeling the spirits of infomercial actors, you’ll say something entirely and delightfully juvenile, like “I want to be a puppy!” in response to questions about what you want to be when you grow up.

The bane of your young existence continues to be clothes. Though your legs continue to grow in length, your waist quit expanding around age two, and I have a terrible time finding pants that are both long enough and narrow enough. Add to that a rather unique fashion sense, and there’s not a whole lot we have left to work with. You've always insisted on dressing yourself and, left to your own devices, over the years you've concocted outfits like this:


And this:
And, most recently, this:


I don't seem to have a photo of it, but at last year's birthday party, you dressed yourself in a hanes white undershirt, bright orange swim trunks, and green alligator rain boots. Always with the boots...

While it makes getting you ready in the morning a bit of a challenge, I sincerely hope that you maintain your sense of your own way as you grow. For my part, I do solemnly swear to allow you to be your own person; form your own opinions; and make your own (age-appropriate) decisions. Should I ever forget my oath, know that you have the right to (ever so respectfully) call me on my shit.

I love you, Bug. Happy Birthday.

Love,
Mommy

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