Friday, April 25, 2014

Happy 5th Birthday, Big Arrow!

As you might already know, I write a post to each Arrow on their birthday. (Links to Big Arrow's 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, and Little Arrow's 1st and 2nd, if you want to catch up). It's the end of April, so even though I'm in complete denial about it, Big Arrow is turning five. 5. FIVE. Maybe the more I write it the more I'll believe it.

What a year, young man. I've never been as proud to be your mom (mum?) as I have been this year.

That's a big statement because like any mom, I've always been so proud of you. The way you fall into a world of pretend with complete abandonment of the real world. How you always complement me if I'm the least bit dressed up (sometimes that just means I put on earrings). When you're running around on the playground, I never worry that you're going to do anything risky or be mean to other kids. It's just not your nature. And that you never want to walk anywhere without holding someone's hand (even that pesky little brother of yours).

And sometimes you just don't want to walk anywhere period. I'm pretty sure you might be riding in a stroller through the halls of middle school. I'm not so proud of that.

We asked a lot of you this year. You had a fun little group of friends back in Indiana that you played with so nicely and that you could have grown up side by side with. You loved your preschool. You adore your grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, who only lived an hour away. You saw them often. In terms of what a 4-year-old is looking for, life was pretty sweet and easy.

Try as we did, it's hard to explain the difference that moving to a new country would involve to a kid your age. So I'm not really sure you understood what was happening about a year ago. In fact, you got off the plane at Heathrow and said, "When will I start talking differently?"

I think it was our first visit to the grocery story here, when you asked for Goldfish and I said, "They don't sell those here, we have to find some new crackers we like," that reality started to set in. (Turns out, they do, but only at one store, and just because I love you, I drive 30 minutes to it every few weeks to supply you with Goldfish, young man.)

But somehow, you've done more than persevere this year. You have truly thrived. Even though knowing you'd be starting school at 4 scared me out of my mind, you love it. You've made a few new buddies that are just as quirky and fun as you. You've learned so much. Going to school has made you more observant, more curious, and so much braver. I love your growing independence, your love of reading, and your sense of the world around you.

I don't know if all of our traveling has made you this adaptable. I'd like to think it played a part, but maybe it's just who you are. Maybe beyond that slightly scared and shy exterior, there's quite an adventurer underneath.

One of my most vivid moments with you this year happened just last week, during our overnight stop in Dover on our return home from Belgium. There was a children's festival at Dover Castle, and one of the "entertainers" was a 1940s era military drill sergeant who was leading kids through an obstacle course. Before anyone could do the course, you had to endure a few minutes of him yelling at you. Most of the kids seemed to understand that his screaming was all part of the fun. But you thought this guy was completely the real deal and you took it very, very seriously. By the time it was your turn in line, your face turned white and you ran away sobbing. A few minutes later though, you tugged on my sleeve and said you wanted to try one more time. So you waited again, practicing your best soldier stance while in line, hoping to avoid the sergeant's rage.

And then you did it. You can hear me chuckling a little in this video, your face so serious, your body so stiff. But your dad and I both had tears in our eyes when it was over.

I loved that moment. And I love you. Happy 5th, Big Arrow.

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