We are hard on you, and we don't ever mean to be. You've always been so curious, so big hearted and emotional. You never sleep, and when you do, I always get a picture... because it almost never happens. Unfortunately, when you do pass out during the day it's because you're not feeling well. I'm so sorry I can't fix you every time when you hurt. I'm so sorry that I you are our "starter" child so to speak. We learn through you, and Daddy and I both know what that's like because we were the first too. Just like our parents, we expect great things from you because we know you're capable of exceeding greatness. And yet, I know how incredibly unfair those expectations are. You try so hard to please us, and Lo, you don't even have to try. You are our boy, our first creation together, our greatest legacy began with you.
I remember night after night, nursing you and shushing you... begging you to just fall asleep until 2 a.m. became 3 a.m. and slowly we would wake up around sunrise on the couch, groggy and unaware of how we got there. You would look at me with your big not yet chocolatey emerald eyes and smile. It was a new day! For new adventures and discoveries! Carpe diem and boobies and all that stuff! You hated tummy time, loathed it. You would have much rather had your hands in mine so you could push up to stand, ready to run, but no coordination to do so. You wanted nothing more than to be strapped facing out in that ratty old Snugli so you could fuss at me to take you from one room to another. Your eyes weren't big enough to see the whole world and it would literally, and still does at times, frustrate you to no end. And yet, when you were sleeping, it was all I could do not to crawl up in my bed with you and stick your sticky baby fist in my mouth and just savor your scent and sounds. I could only watch you sleep, however, because the slightest movement on the mattress meant party time or that the booby buffet was open for business.
I constantly worried about your developmental milestones. I lied to your pediatrician more than once about your speech and language development because you communicated to me in a way that made me know you understood. You had your own language and I was fluent unlike anyone else. When Lillie came out talking, you began to grasp the benefits of using your words. I sighed a huge sigh of relief knowing they'd been inside your head all that time, but it never seemed to matter enough for you to use them. Your baby features started to melt away almost as quickly as your vocabulary started to grow. I died inside when your thigh chub creases seemed to disappear overnight. I cried alongside you as you wiped out on the driveway repeatedly because you didn't know how to stop running, instead only speeding up and bringing the inevitable closer and closer. Each new scar and scab hurt me as much as it did you. Your baby skin giving way to roughed up knees and elbows, making way for dirt and hairy little boy legs. Your scent changing from powdery sweet to earth and sweat.
When you started preschool, I thought I would be happy to give you more freedom to run and socialize. You are everyone and anyone's friend. Instead I found the silence left in your wake deafening. You were only gone for a few hours a day a few days a week. I learned to appreciate the time it gave me with Lillie, but when it came time to go pick you up, we would celebrate your return to us as you would come running out the door with arms outstretched. Even if there comes a day where you could care less about your parents, I hope you always have your Sister as your best buddy and partner in crime even though most days it's the other way around.
At 4, you are still so eager to please that you stumble awkwardly on words you can't yet understand. You want to help and don't understand our frustrations when you are underfoot. We want to include you and teach you, but we fall back to square one. We don't know how to best teach you or include you. We try hard to be patient, and after 4 years, we are still learning this fine art. Every day you change a little more, you spread your wings a little more, finally finding a new and exciting independence of connecting the figurative dots to make pictures and words. The building blocks to logic are slowly falling into place and I can see the disappointment when you realize something can't go your way because it simply can't. I feel your sadness deep in my heart when you break down in tears because life isn't fair. I often joke that being 4 must be a hard job, but I'm only half joking, because I know it's hard. I was once very much like you, and sometimes I still am. You want to make everyone laugh, you want to love and please those closest to you. You want your space, but can't understand when Lillie or anyone else wants theirs. You are bossy and stubborn and hate when she or your friends don't play Star Wars the way you want them to. I get it. Believe me, I get it.
At almost 5, I can vividly remember waking up in my room at Gamma's house. It's one of my first solid memories as a child. I remembered that it was almost my birthday and we were in a new house and I had a best friend who lived close to me. I was aware, much more than I'd ever been, of myself and my surroundings. I think if you haven't already become more "aware" that the day is coming. I want to whisper all the answers in your ear as you sleep, to reassure you that it's ok to be awkward and it's ok to be you, big heart and all. I want to feel your little arms wrap around my neck as I promise you that we will get through this next year all in one piece, better than when we started... that Kindergarten won't be scary and the possibility of surgery isn't that big a deal, that it's far better for you to be well than take chances. Mommy is not a risk taker, and you know what I've noticed? Neither are you.
My sweet precious boy, nothing can ever change the fact that you are my little lover. I will always stop what I'm doing when you sneak past me to tell me that you love me. I hope that everyone stops to hear you proclaim your love for them. I hope their hearts melt like mine do. You are a treasure, my greatest gift, my sweetest boy, my inner voice.