This week is your 5th birthday. Four years ago, I wrote another letter to you, in awe of how much you’d grown your first year of life.
Now? I’m just begging time to slow down.
How many times does my dad, your Grandpa Jack, have to tell me how fleeting youth is, your youth, before I finally understand?
I see it in the muscles in your legs as you climb the fence in our yard to unlatch the gate when we leave in the morning. In the rapt attention you pay to jigsaw puzzles — still a favorite hobby of yours, and one that requires no help from me as you fit 100 pieces together.
And I see how much you’ve grown as you ride your two-wheel bike ahead of me on the bike path, tooling around and singing to yourself about the joys of being outdoors with the wind in your hair. You’ve learned some gymnastics, tae kwon do and soccer. (Is there anything funnier than a kid in shinguards?)
I hear how much you’ve grown in the occasional bits of wisdom you share with me.
“Mom, 100 is really old. When you get to 100, you just die, right, Mom?”
Or my favorite: “Mom, sad means you can’t do what other people are doing.”
That’s probably the best definition I’ve heard. That is sad. Sadder even is watching your child unable to do the things other kids do. In our five years together, Jack, we’ve weathered a bit of that, as we worked to help you learn better social skills and come out of your shell.
You’re a loving, kind boy — and those are the most important qualities your dad and I have hoped you’d develop. Nothing else matters in life, Jack, except being kind. Keeping your word. Admitting when you’re wrong. Those skills will take you a long way, all the way, in life. Well, that and a killer sense of humor. Actually, that might be the most important. That’s the solid advice your Grandpa Jack has given me, and I believe it.
Another thing I love about you is that you’ll try anything — and you don’t get discouraged when it doesn’t work out the first time. You fall off your bike and get back up. You’re resilient and not afraid to make mistakes.
The qualities that make a kid fun to be around are the same ones that make an adult a good person, and I love watching you and knowing that people will like you. That they do like you.
Let’s face it — you inherited a few nerd qualities from me and your dad. I mean, we have degrees in English and economics and can’t see our alarm clocks without our glasses.
But so far, you’ve taken the best from both of us and blended it into this awesome 5-year-old.
God, I love you.
I love when you pretend to be “Moopid,” who is allowed to say naughty words, like “stupid.” Or when you put on your construction worker/contractor outfit and come ask me, “Do you need some help, sir?” We’ll work on the ma’am part.
The other day in the car, I said I was tired, and you asked why.
“I had a long day at work, buddy,” I told you.
“Does your work have beds?” you asked.
It doesn’t, but that’s just one of the good ideas you’ve had. Works should definitely have beds, Jack. (That, and that we should get dessert even if we don’t eat our vegetables, and make Viv pick up all the toys all the time.)
So here we are. Five years after your dad and I embarked on this whole parenting journey. You have a little sister, and we’ve all weathered the changes that come with a growing family. I think about how little you were, just barely 2, when we brought her home, and how at the time I thought you were so big already.
Now I wonder what I’ll think in five more years, in 10.
For the next year, we’ll still enjoy having a preschool-aged child, before the chaos of a school year changes our lives.
We can still go to the park after work and not worry about homework. And you still want me to curl up with you and read books at night.
And, my favorite:
“Mom, can you just cuddle for a little bit?”
You got it, buddy.
I’ll make time for you until the day I die. Let’s hope that’s not until I’m 100. I need all the time I can get with you and your sister.
Jacqueline Palfy Klemond is the local news editor. She writes a parenting blog at jackandviv.wordpress.com.