Sunday, July 22, 2007

Dear The Kid,

When I was five months pregnant with you, you went to your first concert. It was [cringe] the Backstreet Boys. Your aunt was a dancer on their world tour, and so when they came through Seattle we went to see the show. Whenever the Boys sang a fast song (which, thankfully, wasn't all that often - it was apparently a very ballad-y kind of night, which pleased the sobbing, shrieking preteens to no end) you would kick and flop and flip. I hoped it was all a way to express your disgust; a way to make me so uncomfortable I would finally leave the scene of such offending noise. But there was a part of me that was worried; afraid that you were totally diggin' it and dancing your little fetal ass off, destined to be born a pre-pubescent 11 year old girl with a penchant for sappy bubble gum pop and, omigod, the BIGGEST crush on Nick Carter.

As it turns out, I needn't have worried. You just turned 6 last week, and your love of rock is undeniable. Your grandmother asked for a list of your favorite bands to supplement her birthday shopping list, and it looked a little something like this: Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, Beastie Boys, The White Stripes, Greenday, Modest Mouse. I've heard Nevermind and Ten so often over the last few months, I've hardly been able to resist the urge to tie a flannel around my waist. And you're far more dedicated than the average casual observer. You've already perfected your rock-n-roll scream. You'll sit for hours at your mini drum set, pounding away and belting out nonsense lyrics. Then you'll jump up and wail on your guitar for a while. If you're feeling adventurous, you'll even give a few blows to the ol' harmonica - an instrument you occasionally refer to as a "nirvanica," in what I like to think of as an homage to one of your favorite bands. You get so completely lost in it, this fine art of yours, and I get immense pleasure from watching you go at it. And immense headaches.

But music isn't your only love. No, there's a new temptress competing for your attentions: girls. You're still not entirely certain what to make of them, but you're beginning to entertain the notion that, despite their infuriating inability to make a proper machine gun sound, there just might be something worthwhile hidden amongst their pink ruffles and pigtails. There are several little girls in your preschool class who've announced their intentions to marry you. You initially shrugged off such proclamations, as if this is just something girls do, this marrying thing. But girls will be girls, and it seems your disinterest has only caused a dramatic increase in their efforts. You are equal parts annoyed, intrigued, and scared by this development, but I certainly hope you're paying attention. Because it will not change, and someday you'll be able to use this knowledge to your advantage. You'll get much further with the disinterest technique than you'll ever get by pulling hair, showing off your mad bmx skillz, or bathing in Drakkar Noir - all of which you're destined to try.

This year brought your first introduction to soccer. Your dad coached your team, and you were terrible. It would be easy enough to blame your lack of soccer skills on your dad's lack of coaching skills, but I think closer to the truth would be that you just weren't interested in the soccer ball. At least not in kicking it. What you wanted was for someone else to kick it so that you could then chase it. And that? Chasing the ball? Kid, you ROCK at that! You have got some serious speed in those spindly little legs of yours. You'd fly down the field, passing people left and right, catch up to the ball, stop it... and then stand back and wait for the other players to catch up so that one of them could kick it, giving you an excuse to chase after it all over again. I'm thinking track might be your sport.

The spring brought your first real road trip. With more than a little trepidation, I piled you and my mother into a car and we spent two weeks driving to Disneyland and back. It sucked as much as any family road trip should, and I loved every minute of it. You did too, and I'm glad I got to share it with you. Your grandmother, on the other hand, will probably think twice before climbing into a car with the two of us again. It became very clear that you and I are annoyed by pretty much the exact same things, and your grandma just happens to be one of those things. I've had 31 years to perfect the art of traveling with her, and have gotten to the point where I can actually enjoy it. But you could clearly use some more practice.

The past year also brought the advent of "big boy" books, and thank gawd for that. It was one thing when you were just a wee thing, and your favorite books were primarily Dr. Suess and little golden book classics. But when you became a bonafide boy and started requesting that I read the same very poorly written Batman and Scooby Doo and Ninja Turtles stories over and over and over again, I thought I might be forced to abandon our nightly bedtime story ritual. Thankfully, I was able to convince you that Big Boys read chapter books before bed. And that Big Boys didn't need books with pictures because they use their Big Boy imaginations. You were skeptical but you obediently gave it a try, and thus began our love affair with Lemony Snicket and his series of unfortunate events. At first, you would only sit through half a chapter, interrupting me every few seconds to ask to see the cover of the book again (because the cover, at least, had a picture on it). But it wasn't long before the interruptions became questions about word meanings or guesses about what Count Olaf might try next. We're currently on book eight of the series and you're hooked - not just on this series, but on Big Boy books as a whole. At your request, your dad picked up the first Harry Potter book for you, and you have a list of books you want to read after we complete the Snicket series. If I have done one thing right as a parent, I have to think that this is it.

Or this: buying a house across the street from your very best friend. I moved every year for most of my life, apartment to apartment, and never really got to know any neighborhood kids or develop this kind of friendship. You two have been friends since before you could walk or talk. It's a silly thing of course, but I love that I've been able to give you this - this friend who's always known you, who stands on his front porch yelling for you to come over and play, who brings us bread when you're craving a pb&j and ours has all gone moldy. And as the likelihood of any siblings for you diminishes rapidly, I like to think that you'll grow to have some idea of what it might've been to have had a brother.

I love you, bug. Happy birthday.

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