Tomorrow morning you will be eight.
Today you woke me up at 6:40 by singing in your bedroom. I smiled, even if it was entirely too early to be up on a Saturday morning.
I chose to write your birthday letter on the eve of your special day this year mainly because I am awash in memories today. In the here and now, as I am folding your laundry and dropping my jaw at how your jeans look so long, I feel transported back to today as it happened eight years ago: I busied myself getting ready for my 38-week doctor’s appointment, making sure the bag for the hospital held all of the important stuff. I don’t know how or why, but I knew you’d be here sooner than later. And by the next evening, you arrived and changed our lives forever.
Maybe that’s why you just seem to know things now. Maybe.
This past year with you has been a good one. You’ve faced some challenges, head on — the only way you know how. You learned to cope with a hearing loss diagnosis; you know how to advocate for yourself when you can’t hear something or when you need to wear hearing protection. You dealt with a hard situation at school when a bully wouldn’t leave you alone. You beat those timed math tests.
And you’ve done it all with your smile, with your big heart.
During the parent-teacher confernece with your teacher last month, I mentioned that she would be able to know if someone or something bothered you because you wear your heart on your sleeve. She agreed. You do. I know when you’re sad. I know when you’re happy. Thankfully, you’re mostly happy. And you’re always, always full of love and care for others around you. That remains one of my favorite things about you. I hope to see that grow again this year.
What else happened this year? Lots of things! You played coach-pitch baseball, learned how to swing at real pitches, and made your first out at second base. You’ve devoured series upon series of books. You’ve discovered a passion for origami. You totally learned to ride that bike faster than me, as I predicted, and earned permission to ride it on the street. You roller skated! You totally got better at video games than either me or Daddy. Your drawing and book writing continues to improve; you’re so creative.
You’ve also taken to telling both me and Daddy everything. I want you to know that we both love that and are always here for you, no matter what. From the little things — trading pretzels for Oreos at lunch — to the big things — choosing not-so-great words when you’re frustrated — we’re always here for you. As your parents, we want to be able to help you be the best you possible; when you tell us these things, that helps us help you. Good job, kid. I’m proud of you.
I don’t know what this next year holds for you. I’m excited to be here with you through it all, to watch you grow and change and live and love and be you.
Happy Birthday, my oldest son.