A year ago I wrote a letter to my daughter. I always meant to write one to my son.
He turns five this Saturday and it is the perfect incentive to cease procrastination.
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To My Sweetie, My Kamikaze Monkey Boy:
The instant I heard your heart beat on the sonogram, I knew a love unlike any other. The tentative love taking root inside from the moment I’d learned I was pregnant burst with the reality of the strong, rapid heartbeat echoing in the room. I still remember the awe flowing over your dad and I at the miracle of you.
You are blessed with the “active” gene of my family. This began while you were still in the womb and earned the nickname Dances with Happy Feet. Your dad was very impressed how you reenacted a scene – from a movie I won’t let you watch until you’re 17 – called Alien.
I counted down to your arrival. The doctor said “any day”… for three weeks. I’d scheduled an inducement, but only because you were supposed to arrive earlier. I didn’t want one.
It turns out you inherited my love of procrastination: why do today what we can put off until tomorrow? At 4 AM the day of my 8 AM appointment to be induced, you broke my water and took the matter out of my hands.
Once I had you in my arms, I never wanted to let you go and your poor, equally excited daddy had to wait over four hours to hold you after you were born. My heart now lived outside of body.
You showed me how love can overcome all: extreme sleep deprivation, nursing pain, everything. Anything to make sure you had all I could give.
Your active side was instantly apparent. You wanted to get from Point A to Point B from the first week you were born. Because you lacked the physical ability to do so, you insisted those who loved you do it for you. In those first few months, you sneered at tummy time, but loved riding in the baby carrier, held close to our hearts, able to see the world from a vertical position. You never wanted to miss a thing, and refused such restrictive environments like a car seat or bouncy seat.
You wanted to sit. You wanted to move.
We spent hours at parks, you sitting on my lap, exercising your back muscles as your eyes tracked all of the movement. They day you learned to sit upright was a relief, for me and you. Finally, you could take in the world on your own terms.
You transitioned through all the modes of transportation, desperate to maneuver on your own. You rolled, then army crawled – your cackle of glee as you approached your target never failing to make me smile.
You decided regular crawling was beneath you, and instead went to straight to bear crawling – your knees never touching the ground. I watched your persistence build, as you slowly built up the arm strength to do this, until one day after accumulating hours of downward facing dog pose, you were off. You never looked back.
Caution was never in your vocabulary. It still isn’t. You have no fear in your exploits and it continues to terrify me. I try to give you safe boundaries, but you will always push against them.
You remind me a lot of me.
You are almost five and have been able to climb to the tops of playground equipment for well over year. You learned to ride a bike in just over a month, after years of deeming pedaling worthless.
You are a perfectionist. This simple fact causes the greatest moments of joy along with the deepest pits of frustration, many times leading to a meltdown.
Your perfectionism meant you refused to draw until you were four and half. You lacked the motor skills to put on paper what was in your head, and were angered when your hands failed to deliver. Watching your love of drawing blossom was magical and no one is prouder than I.
This same perfectionism and daredevil nature was shown in your recent bike riding. You fell. So many times. You had skinned knees and elbows. You screamed with frustration.
But you kept trying. You persisted.
You succeeded. Even if it wasn’t perfect at first.
Then you moved quickly to offroading, needing a new challenge.
You love science. The human body fascinates you as does outer space. Volcanoes are your latest obsession and you try to soak up every scrap of information you can about any of these topics.
I remember watching you discover something new as baby, I could see the figurative wheels turning in your head. I see the same whenever we discuss the latest topic of interest.
You will sit and thumb through books for an hour, then come ask me questions. You want answers, and often get frustrated if I fail to answer your question to your satisfaction.
Never stop asking questions. Life is a constant teacher, if we listen.
When you aren’t reading or drawing, you are rarely still. Whether it is dancing, running, climbing, biking, or chasing your sister you are a man in motion.
You are a big brother. No one was more gentle and delicate around a baby, than you with your infant sister. She would be laying on her playmat and you would lay next to her. Your name was one of her first words and she looks up to you and your challenges.
You took it upon yourself to make sure your sister was tough – no wussies allowed. You frustrated me to no end the year you were three, as you toughened your sister by bumping/knocking/pushing her over as she learned to crawl and walk.
You still feel you must act the role of teaser, keeping her from ruling the house unmitigated.
But I see through your facade. I listen to you as you teach her the different planets, her ABCs, and quiz her on the various animals. I see your smile when she answers correctly.
I hear your giggles when you collude with her to hide from daddy. I witness the joy when she plays with you.
You are a big brother. You will protect her from others, just not yourself. The day you learned she had to have shots at the doctor, you cried for her. You begged me not to take her.
You are a big brother. Please be there for your sister long after I am gone. I had her not just for me, but for you. I did not want you alone without a sibling to turn to. She is strong too and together you can face anything together.
Focus on your love of life, the joy you get, not the imperfections. No one is completely perfect. I know you will strive to be, and that is fine, but remember you have to fail to learn to succeed. Work to be better, but do not let it get to you if you are not always the best.
Take pleasure in the little things. The butterfly. The stars. Drawing the image in your head. Dancing.
Use your strength to help others. Do not be the bully, be the defender. Aid those who cannot protect themselves.
Love deeply. You were created with love. The first grandchild, you were bathed in it from birth. From your grandparents, your uncle, your aunties, G-ma and G-pa, your sister and your father and I – you have brought light into our lives.
Know this family will always hold you in its heart. We are here for you if you need to talk, if you are frustrated.
Choose the side of what is right, not the dark side.
Your laugh has the power to make everyone around you smile.
It heals so much.
You are transforming into a little man, but I still see the personality that shined at me as a baby.
I see the independence. The determination. The fearlessness. The smiles. The love of learning.
Sometimes I wish you were still my baby, wanting nothing more than to snuggle close. Then I look at you.
I am proud of the person you are becoming. I hope I have many more years to see it firsthand.
And sometimes, you will still snuggle with me. Those times I wrap you in my arms and hold you close until you wriggle and break free.
I’ll take it.
I love you, sweetie.