I was the first one to know you, your restlessness interwoven with your capacity for deep sleep. My child, content in your silent swimming…
1) You are a miracle, finally here. Our touch is electric – we are the same skin. I understand your baby-seriousness and your clumsiness. I see myself in you, just as I see you in me. Do you feel the same? Parent and child hold a mirror for the other. We recognize ourselves more clearly in the reflection.
2) Two-years old. Somehow, you have gone from stumbling to running. Your hands are strong enough to exert your will. You have the ability now, but not the understanding of consequences. Oh, what have I gotten into? I love you more each day.
3) This is the moment I can apply what little I know from reading about child development. You are three-years old, contrary and opinionated. I promise I will strive to be consistent. I will be the water that rounds rough edges. I will keep your precious, innate beauty intact. Such a line to walk.
4) Like a light switch, you have flicked on your humanity and reason. Surely, you are the most delightful person I have ever met.
5) At five-years old, you have become self-aware in a new way. You hide that you can read until we trick you by mis-reading words. You say we read it wrong, then tell us the correct word. Now we know for certain. This shows such restraint, just so you can stay a child in the world’s eyes. You are not ready to admit that the tsunami of knowledge is now yours through the written word.
6) In school, you have officially begun your independent life. Each year, it will become more and more difficult to keep up with everything you learn in your hours away from me. You sing songs I haven’t heard. Mention names without faces. Describe games I have never played. Who is this person who knows these things?
7) You are becoming more and more yourself each day. You ask amazing, insightful questions. You undoubtedly are smarter than I am. At seven, you embrace your interests fully: soccer, art, astronomy, fantasy writing, nature. I wonder how soon it will be until the pressures of peer-conformity emerge. I hope you always remember the root of you at this moment. I will.
8) I don’t know what waits for us at eight-years old. We have walked off the map. I will now rely on my internal compass, and teach you to rely on your compass which becomes stronger every day. I will put you to sleep surrounded by hippos and elephants as long as you let me. In a sense, I tuck myself in. I have learned the two sides of the blanket, and experience them both simultaneously. I soak in the sense of being my own child, and wonder how many more times you will let me nurture you this way.
(Happy 8th birthday, Sunboy!)
9) Updated on March 27, 2015: Tomorrow you will be nine-years old, the last of the single digits. You have become a powerhouse, so confident, so strong. You read Harry Potter novels in a blink, then read them again. You create beautiful drawings with intricate realities and innumerable, detailed characters. You tell me their stories with the passion of an artist. You want to compete over anything and everything. We try to explain that sometimes in winning, we lose other things. In the end, your wonderful heart, as big as the sky, shows you the way. I am not at all worried, my sweet, growing boy. Today you are as tall as my shoulder but your presence and intensity is boundless.