Monday, November 30, 2015

Happy 4th Birthday, Little Arrow!

As you may know, I like to write posts to the boys on their birthdays, and it is Little Arrow's 4th birthday (you can read his 1st2nd, and 3rd posts and Big Arrow's 2nd3rd4th, 5th, and 6th posts at the links.) Forgive this temporary transformation of this travel blog into an incomplete baby book... I'll resume my normal travel tales and tips in a few days.

Little man, I've been thinking about what I might write to you in this space, on the eve of your fourth birthday, for weeks now. I want to do justice to my feelings toward you. How complex they are, yet how pure and full of love they are, too. Your personality has truly blossomed this year. We're getting a much clearer snapshots of the boy you're becoming and man you'll be someday. And we love everything we're seeing.

I say my feelings are complex because you challenge me every single day. Sometimes every single minute. Not because you're naughty (though you are, sometimes) or because you're difficult (though you are sometimes that, too). But because in most ways you're nothing like me. And I'm learning to appreciate how parenting someone so different from "my own self" (as you like to say!) is making me a better person.

I see a coloring sheet, and I can't wait to fill it with fabulous shades that I think will look beautiful together. You see a coloring sheet and you want to make it look exactly like the cover of the coloring book. I see a stack of puzzles and get bored. You see puzzles as a jumble just waiting to be organized. You're gravitating toward counting and math while I'm drawn to words and writing. I love to snuggle my family, but if I lay down next to you in your bed you make me maintain a strict 1 inch boundary of no touching.

I see risky playground equipment and think, "no way." You see them and think, "challenge accepted."

I fill my life with our small families and a few close friends. You're reportedly the most popular kid in your class, and I'm reminded of that whenever I pick you up from nursery and two dozen children come running to the fence to say goodbye to you. I'm a morning person, you're at your grouchiest when you first wake up. I'm laid back and not very picky. You demand things to be exactly as you want them, whether its the color of your dinner plate or the stray string hanging off your sock or only wearing that Captain America shirt with those particular dark blue trousers.

I hate to admit this, but before I became your mom, I think I may have been a bit judgemental toward people who weren't much like me. Now that I see life through your eyes, I know deeply and purely in a way I never knew before how absolutely fantastic it is that we're all so different. Because of you, I've welcomed friends into my life that are a lot more like you than me and my life is much richer for it. You're open to adventures and experiences that bring so much joy to all of us. And you challenge our family to be more open-minded, more accepting, and more embracing of diversity. Couldn't we all use more of that these days?

Plus, we laugh harder and more often because of the myriad of ways you entertain us. (Some day we'll tell you about that time you shushed us all at dinner only to get up, turn your back to us, and blow us away with an enormous fart. I earned my boy mom badge that day by laughing instead of scolding.)

We joke that the scariest words to hear are you saying, "Hey everybody, watch this!" You are my wild child, through and through.

When they wheeled me into surgery the day you were born, James Taylor's Sweet Baby James was playing in the operating room. I remember being overcome with this feeling that I just couldn't wait another moment to meet you. And each morning, for the past four years, when you yell at the top of your lungs for me to come into your room, I think to myself that I just can't wait to see what you'll get up to that day. I know it'll surprise me, challenge me, frustrate me, and delight me. Sometimes all at the same time. Isn't that wonderful?

I hope I get to feel that way for many more years, sweet boy. Happy birthday!

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