As I write this post, it should be clear that I am now the father of two as it is the evening of Dec. 26th and this is getting done at the last minute. Usually I’ve started writing these a couple weeks ahead of time as I always want to put some good thought into it and also because I’m just excited to talk about how amazing you are and how you make me feel.
Before your brother was born I was thinking to myself how I would be writing two of these, but wondering how they would be different? Should I do a combined letter? Is there really something that I want you to know about me that I didn’t want your brother to know? Now that your brother is here it seems so obvious the different ways both of you excite me. I also started thinking at what point would I no longer feel the need to write these letters? After all, if the goal is for you to know who I am at this point in your life, at what age have you figured me out? And at what point should I just be telling you everything I’m thinking to your face instead of writing it in a letter you might read years later? I imagine that time is not now, but I am at awe at how perceptive you are. You have a great ability to see things for what they are, but still enjoy it, love it, have a passion for it. I love that at about you. There are few things about me that are important enough to me that I would want you to have it, but that is one of them. The ability to find wonder in the world we live in. So who knows how many more letters there might be, but probably less than I think.
That being said, the truth is I really don’t understand why you are the way that you are. I always thought that parenting would be like this constant verbal reinforcement of good values, and how to practice empathy, and that it would be a struggle that you would see come to fruition only years down the road. And maybe it’s that too, but right now it just feels like you are just suddenly amazing and I don’t know why. I can’t link it to something I’ve done or told you. This year you’ve already taken the first step towards understanding charity and I couldn’t be more proud. Understanding that there’s a way to help people and animals who are in peril is important. But more than that you are beginning to see your own good fortune and that’s the first step in having gratitude for advantages in your own life. But I don’t need to tell you these things it seems, somehow you will just figure it out. I do worry about making sure you have good values, but you keep surprising me by seeming to have them without much effort. My greatest wish for you and your brother is that you’ll be kind people. Yeah, you may face challenges greater than I had to face, and people might argue that toughness is more important. But I don’t feel toughness has to be sacrificed for kindness. Both are possible, and in general I think people have the wrong idea about what toughness really is. Kind or unkind there are tough people in this world, but also a lot of people pretending to be a lot tougher than they are. I feel the reason they pretend is because there is just not enough kindness. So I feel I’m justified in making that my most important goal for you. And you already are kid. You even make me reflect and look inward and how I can be a better person in this world. I hope I can be a good guide, but I have no doubt that this will be a journey where we will both grow as humans…together. I’m so excited for the journey you are going to take me on.
This year you became a brother. I really didn’t have any doubts you would be a good one. You are so sweet and loving to your brother. The only thing I worried about is you getting impatient for your brother to be a playmate. But you’ve been so patient and understanding both towards him, and towards us as we often have to take care of the baby over playing with you. When Allie was new, when he’d cry you’d always cover your ears. You hated to hear him in distress. You still do of course and you even get very flustered at times when you can’t make your brother feel better. It’s hard for adults too honestly, we just have more psychological tools to fall back on. But it actually makes me feel more at ease that Allie already has a brother who is so worried about him and loves him so much. I know, within your ability, you will also do your best for Allie and that means a lot to both your mother and I. Your brother already responds to you so much. He’s going to look up to his brother, and I have no doubts you will take that responsibility seriously.
This is the part of the letter where I talk about the year, by the numbers. Literally. You have shown a great interest in numbers this year. As a person who loves math, I couldn’t be more excited. And while your actual math has improved, I’ve more enjoyed your questions which aren’t really aimed at necessarily solving math, but just about numbers in general. Like how big they are, how they are sequenced, or how they are written. You sometimes just sit there and ask me to add numbers together. You’ll be like “what’s 100 plus 17?” and I’ll say “117”, and then you’ll say, “But then what is 1 million plus 17?”, “Then I’ll say one million and 17”. You won’t even respond, it’s like you are just processing it all, looking for patterns. The time I was the most impressed was after telling you very little about multiplication, you suddenly announced that 6 time 2 was 12. I was stunned. And for some reason you had decided to count two nobs sticking out of a light fixture 6 times, and just realized how multiplication works. I have no idea how smart you are compared to other children, but I do feel confident in saying you are a smart boy. The kind of smart that will serve you well whatever situation you find yourself in life.
It seems I have talked mostly about how amazing you are. Honestly you are more amazing than I can let on. I suppose that’s always going to be the case, since I don’t want to give you too big of a head, especially since I might just be heavily biased. 🙂 But I guess I should say a few words about where I’m at right now, since that was the point of these letters. The truth is, if talking about you so much is any indication, I’d say that I am probably certifiably a dad right now, because talking and thinking about someone constantly is just what you do when you’re in love. And I’m in love with my boys. 🙂 There are worries in life right now. The politics in this country are still a shambles. My job situation isn’t great right now, and I’m a bit worried about that. Life might have some big changes in it at some point nearer in the future than I thought, but it’s still not that near. Nevertheless there is sort of a different mindset you get in when things are less secure. You and your brother are a big part of what keeps my strength up. I also don’t want to lose precious moments with you, even when there are legitimate things to be stressed about. Maybe even more so because there are legitimate things to stress about. Love should always be a light in the darkness.
Before I go, I just wanted to say that it was awesome that we had our first road trip together. It wasn’t planned that way, but Allie got sick and mommy had to stay home. It was a great time and I’m going to enjoy having trips with my sons in the future. 🙂
Also, so you know, you are still a clown and can make me laugh like no other. I will not be shocked in the least if you become a comedian.
All parents say how quickly the time flies with your children, and it would be easy to say that 5 years have flown by. But truthfully I’m try not to bemoan the loss of the littler version of yourself because I’m just always so excited to see who you are becoming. I accept the fact that you must grow and no force in the universe can change that. Why waste time on wondering where the time went, when the present is to be enjoyed? I plan on just enjoying the journey of being your dad. 🙂