As I sat down to write this letter I’ll admit it was harder to really think about where last year left off and a new one began. From the day you were born to your first birthday was literally a lifetime ago, and yet this second year feels more like a lifetime ago. You are no longer a baby, you are little boy. In my letter to you last year much of what I was feeling was based on a profound change of you not even existing to a sudden filling of my heart and my life. As I look back on this past year the changes in what you mean to me seem equally profound, and it surprises me that love can grow so much.
If your first year was the story of achievements in basic motor skills, your second year of life is about achievements in social skills and the development of more complex thought patterns. Not to say that your physical achievements still aren’t plentiful. I have especially loved the development of facial expressions and hand gestures. Our favorite by far is when you developed the hand gesture for “I don’t know” by throwing your hands up above your shoulders and saying “uhh?” In this year you have also mastered stairs, started running, climbed a little plastic rock wall at the playground, and danced like a maniac.
Your mother is documenting many of your achievements, but I thought I would reiterate to you for future shame, that your first word was not mommy or daddy, but kitty. A word you said often for about a month and then almost never uttered again as you began referring to all animals by the sound that they make. I would also like to throw in there for purposes of future praise and absolute pride that you started saying “daddy” several months before you started saying “mama”. As this year ends you aren’t speaking as much as I expected but your comprehension in two languages is amazing, and you are picking up words almost daily. I expect that for my next letter I will be recounting many conversations. I am not disappointed that you aren’t saying more already, but rather just anxious to talk with you, and hear what you have to say. It’s going to be an exciting coming year.
Another thing I love about this year is the growth of your imagination. You have started interacting with your stuffed animals and feeding them or having your Duplo animals kiss. You clearly have started creating scenarios for their actions, and while I don’t understand these scenarios in the slightest, clearly you do and that’s all that matters.
It excites and worries me how much more clever you are becoming. It’s something I am sure every child starts to do, when they try to deceive their parents. Recently you tried to fake sleep thinking I would walk away so you could leave your room. Of course I was waiting right outside your door and as you peaked out you saw me standing there and gave a little devious smile and went back to bed. I’m here to tell you that your fake sleeping is absolutely adorable, and also completely obvious. The fact that you don’t get how obvious it is, makes it even more adorable. I am sure we will be pitting wits against each other for a good portion of your life under our roof, and I just want you to know, challenge accepted. And truthfully, I’m actually really proud of you for beginning the game already. It shows you have courage, and I know you will only get cleverer for making the effort.
There are a number of things that really stick out for me this year. One is your enjoyment in music, and especially percussion. I don’t know if that will last a life time, but I have been impressed how you have liked to experience different sounds using chopsticks as drumsticks and beating different size drums, different sized bowls and pots, and just other objects that provide a unique sound when struck. The musical moment that I will never forget though happened in Poland. Out on the street there were two girls playing a flute and violin and you were enthralled. You danced while they played, and you clapped when they finished. I think being lost in music is one of the more beautiful sights in this world and it gave me so much joy to see music touch you in that way. It is those kinds of gifts that I hope to be able to provide you with more than anything. Whether you ever play an instrument or not is not as important to me as music being an important part of your life as it is mine. Through music there are stories, images, emotions, depth of thought, and fun to be had.
There are so many things that I love about you this year that I am just going to list some of my favorites:
- I love the fact that you want your “owies” kissed by one of us, or if needed by yourself. I’ve never seen a kid kiss themselves better. I also love that you want to kiss our “owies” better too.
- I love how silly you are. When you do something that entertains us, you really ham it up.
- I love that you don’t just walk, you walk a little more silly. Not that you can’t walk normally, you just like to bop around and walk.
- I love that you try to clean up your messes (even if I don’t like you making misses) and that you throw things in the trash.
- I love that you try so hard to be grown up already which just seems extra adorable since you are so young, and often even though it often ends in disaster I think it’s awesome that you try.
- I love all your quirks, like there is a specific spot in the house where we can only peel oranges, or specific ways we have to use or play things, like when I’m not holding the drumstick to play the drums properly, or not sitting in the right spot while you play.
- I love hearing you say daddy.
The thing that I love most, is how you understand love in a much more tangible way, which is to say you are starting to understand love as much as any of us do. I was struck once again with that unique feeling of happiness and sorrow this year when we were leaving Poland. Your family was waving goodbye to you in the balcony above the waiting area and you were smiling. It was clear you bonded with your family during our stay in Poland and as I watched you smile it struck me that you were at the beginning of understanding this powerful feeling called love, and then I started to cry, because I knew you were also saying goodbye, and so you would also begin to understand missing, longing, and loss. Such emotions will be very painful to you at times, but I just want you know that these emotions are just a reaction, and the harder the hit you, the more love you had, and that is always something to be grateful for.
As far as who I am now because of you, I would have to say it’s hard to tell how I’ve changed. I certainly worry more. I’ve been feeling the weight of the world more this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of that increased weight is because I want you to have as many opportunities as I had, and I worry sometimes that won’t be the case. I know though, that to give you the best possible chance at a good life is to make you strong, and that means conquering my own fears and worries. Because you are watching, and if I can’t do it, how will you learn? Just like missing, longing, and loss, will always find you, so will worries and fears, but they too are a reaction when you feel you have something very beautiful in your life to lose. I promise you to always explore the positive with you first, and when pain finds you as it does us all, then we will explore that too. As I wrote last year, that is hard to not let fear overtake you some times, when you love somebody so much, but the one thing I do know is that when you let fear win, you never truly get to enjoy love. And it is central to my philosophy that love is always to be enjoyed.
People say that the time goes by so quickly with your children, and there is truth to that. But there are also ways to slow it down. Writing this letter has helped me reflect and get lost in this past year with you. You haven’t become who you are in an instant, but through many small incremental changes, and it has just been a pleasure to be at your side through it all. It is your birthday tomorrow, and while there is a part of me that would love for you to stay this age longer, I know that’s not possible and I’m just going to do my best to enjoy each day and each new change it brings.