[Photos courtesy of Pure Joy Photography]
You’ve been telling us for weeks that you do not want to turn five years old, and I gotta tell ya – I’m in complete agreement. Something about this particular birthday is taking me back a little bit.
Five. You’re basically a kid. No longer a toddler and definitely not a baby. A kid. This also means that I’m going on five years of being a Mommy, and that’s kind of blowing my mind, too. I love that we’ve been on this journey together, figuring out what this parent/child dynamic looks like as a team [except I'm totally the boss of this team, but you know what I mean.]
This past year that we’ve had together has undoubtedly been a great one. Daddy and I have stood back in awe while we’ve watched you grow by leaps and bounds in so many areas of your life. You’re a complete natural at every sport we’ve tried with you – you’re already hitting a pitched baseball and are sinking baskets in our mini basketball hoop. You’ve picked up on the rules of football pretty quickly, and one of my favorite memories was when the four of us played a “game” in the backyard. We all huddled together while Daddy and I explained who was going to throw the ball, who would catch it, and who would try to tackle. Watching you and your brother giggle as you dodged each other’s tackles overwhelmed me with contentment. I also really love that I got to teach you to say, “boo-ya!” and to do a dance when you got a touchdown, even if Daddy said that would get you an excessive celebration penalty.
I’ve likewise been amazed at watching your social skills take shape before my eyes. Social situations haven’t always been easy for you, so it makes me so happy to see you now navigating tough situations with ease. I can’t lie – I think it’s helped a lot that you and your brother are so close in age. It turns out he gives you many opportunities to work on your conflict resolution skills. So you’re welcome for that.
For real, though. Where you were once a bit behind socially, you’re now excelling at understanding and responding to others’ emotions, using words to verbalize your feelings, interacting with other kids in a give and take manner, and quelling the urge to overreact when you’re not happy with something. You’ve worked hard and I’m so proud of you.
One of the things I love most about you, kiddo, is your innate curiosity about everything. I read once that the average 4-year old asks somewhere around 400 questions a day. One day I counted how many questions you asked, and lost track after you asked 130 in 45 minutes. I love that about you. You’re doing great at reading and are stubbornly trekking along at writing, but I’ve been most surprised to see your natural interest in science and math. I confess that these are not my strong suites, so I do a lot of googling and a lot of saying, “I’m not sure, honey. Let’s ask Daddy when he gets home.”
Overall, I think our experiences with learning can be summed up in a conversation we had the other night:
You: Mommy, is tomorrow a school day?
Me: Yep. I can’t wait to find out what you learn all about tomorrow at school!
You: I don’t think I need to go to school anymore. I already know everything there is to know.
Me: Really? Honey, there are lots of things that you don’t know.
You: No, I think I do probably know all of it. I think I can stay home tomorrow.
Me: Okay, well can you tell me what 5 + 4 equals?
Me: Huh. Okay, well can you tell me what a-s-t-r-o-n-a-u-t spells?
You: as…t….t…r… Can you spell it again?
You: astro….nnnn….nnn…. astronaut?
Me: Well, then.
Alrighty, can you explain the pythagorean theorem to me?
You: The what?!
Me: Exactly. You’re going to school tomorrow, honey. Good night.
Bug, you’re such an interesting kid. And I mean that in the absolute best way possible. You see the world through such a sweet, innocent, logical lens, and Daddy and I are frequently astonished by the things you say. You told me this past weekend that you were a little bit afraid to go to heaven because you thought you might be shy when you meet God for the first time.
One of my other favorite memories of our last year together happened at bed time a few months ago. For the longest time, you asked me to not sing to you at bedtime. You went through a [very long] phase where you felt like singing and dancing were frivolous and silly, so I complied at bedtime and told you stories instead of a song. A few times I had you “help” me tuck your brother in for his bedtime, and you saw that I sometimes sang “How Great Thou Art” to him. After a week or two, you began asking me to sing the same song to you at bedtime [you call it the "rolling funder" song], and now insist that it’s what I sing to you every night.
As I begin the first verse, I love watching you settle into your pillow and blanket. My heart fills up when I watch you close your eyes and see your breaths deepening. The fact that you want me to sing you a song at bedtime, much less a song about God is not something that I take for granted.
But then one night, honey.
One night as I softly sang, I heard your little voice chime in on the chorus. With your eyes still closed, I heard your quiet voice sing along with me, “then sing my sooooul…God to thee, how great thou hart, how great thou hart. then sing my soooul….my savior God to thee, how great thou hart, how great thou hart.”
And in that moment, kiddo, I had myself a little heart to heart with God. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that His heart was rejoicing over you. I knew that He heard your sweet voice – the voice He created -singing to Him, and I knew that He and I were together watching you in that moment and were treasuring everything that you are.
You have been a precious gift to us Bug, since before we even knew you existed. You were made and created by your Heavenly Father, and for your Heavenly Father. He works through Mommy and Daddy all the time – to love you, care for you, and comfort you. But I want you to know that He is the One who knows you more thoroughly than I ever could. He loves you more fiercely than I’m even capable of, He takes care of you and protects you from things I don’t even realize exist, and He comforts you in moments when I don’t even realize you’re hurting. I’ve seen Him at work in your life over and over, and I can already see evidences of His plan taking shape in you.
The biggest number you can imagine right now is 100, so you love to say, “I love you 100 minutes, Mommy!” Because I know what that means to you, I always answer back, “I love you 100 minutes, too!” But when I say “100 minutes,” what I really mean is, “for all eternity.”
What I’m really saying is: I loved you from the moment I found out I was pregnant with you. I loved you when I felt your feet kicking at the monitor strapped to my belly. I loved you when I first saw your sweet, cranky face. I loved you when you curled up close to my chest and slept peacefully. I loved you when you arched your back in defiance and screamed the whole night through. I loved you when I saw your tenderness towards your baby brother, when you instinctively reached out for my hand, when you screamed, “I DON’T LOVE YOU!” at me, when we belly laugh together, when you’re stubborn, when you’re happy, when you’re scared, when you’re mad…
I love you. For 100 minutes. I love you.