Well, here we are. It’s the day before your third birthday, and here I am, writing you a letter on a computer. This is objectively ridiculous because you’re turning three yet, and you can’t read (I think. I’m still baffling at how you learned to recognize the word “STORM” of all things), but maybe someday, you’ll come back to this and read it and know that I was thinking about you today.
I think about you a lot, really. You always tell me at the end of the day how much you missed me, usually while snuggling up against my shoulder and right before demanding that I play a video for you, like the little dictator you are. I miss you during the day, too. My entire office is full of pictures of you, and my computer background cycles different pictures from the last couple of years–little five-month-old you looking all dapper in October; you holding an umbrella as it pours down rain in Disney World; you with blue gel in your hair, grinning like a Cheshire Cat. I miss you; seeing you is the best part of my day. I find myself sometimes at odds with myself, not wanting to go and do anything outside of the house, just wanting to come home and hang out with you.
You and I are so alike and so different. I’m sure you’ll change as you get older, but right now, you’re SO energetic. My god, you never stop moving, and it’s amazing to me. I have low energy naturally, some of the lowest energy of anyone I know. I’m happiest when I’ve entered stasis and can just sit and observe the world around me. Not you, my speedy little boy. The only time you wholly stop moving is when you’re asleep, and even then, I imagine you’re running in your dreams. You don’t love to get dirty, but you love to be outside, digging in the dirt, having adventures, climbing on everything, jumping off everything. Me, I’d rather look at the outside from behind our enormous window and not have to worry about bugs. Or ticks. I hate ticks.
But for every way that we differ, we’re the same, too. You inherited my language, my love of music, my creativity. Nothing in the world could make me happier than that. You love stories, and you’re so good at words. I don’t think I’ve ever met a three-year-old who speaks like you do, talking to your Uncle Grant about your “weaponry,” and then sighing contentedly and saying, “Oh, that was wonderful!” You communicate so well, and maybe that’s a weird thing to be proud about, but I’m incredibly proud of you. Words aren’t easy. My life is words, and I know that words aren’t easy, but they come so naturally to you.
You love listening to music, probably more than anything else, including Star Wars. Whatever movie we watch, you insist on silence during the closing credits so that you can hear whatever song plays as words scroll up on the screen. Your very worst tantrums are silenced with the simple application of well-placed Tchaikovsky or Williams. You flutter your hands in the air like you’ve actually taken a class in conducting (I have a lot of friends who took classes in conducting; they look like you). You love music so much that you’ve taught your friends, who’ve never seen Star Wars before, to sing the “Imperial March” and the main theme. How crazy is that?
Your teachers tell me that you have the best imagination of any kid they’re working with, and I believe them. You’re our son, after all. Part of me thinks that you realized you could play pretend with your toys the first time you saw Toy Story and just went from there. I love watching you play, watching you make your stories with all of your toys. You are a joy, my little baby boy.
(this is an inside joke with your dad, your Auntie, and me. It is hilarious. You don’t get it, but it’s hilarious)
There aren’t enough numbers in the cosmos to enumerate how many times a day I’m thankful for you. I love the things we share together–watching Chopped, baking and cooking, playing lightsabers, reading books, recreating baking videos with Play-Doh, dancing while we wait for Daddy to bring your water cup at bedtime, playing the “faces” game (during which you always say, “I have no planets, just a moon,” which I STILL DO NOT UNDERSTAND but that is okay).
Part of me wants to tell you that you’re not my baby anymore, and that’s partly true. You’re 0% baby; you’re tall and lanky, and you understand the world as a little boy, not a baby. And, of course, you’ll only get bigger and understand the world in bigger ways. I’m in a weird state where I both want that and don’t want it; I can’t wait to see what kind of man you become, but I wish that I could preserve your innocence forever. I wish I could protect you from the truth of the world and let you think that things will always be good, but part of growing up is knowing that sometimes, things will be bad.
So I suppose the best thing to do, then, is to tell you this: if and when things get bad, your job is to do good. Treat people kindly. Help people who need it. Look for beauty yourself and show it to others. Create beauty if you can’t find any. Remember the spark of goodness inside of you and help others to see theirs as well.
You may be a little boy, not a baby anymore, but you’ll always be my baby, my very first. I can’t remember the specifics of the moment you were born, what people were saying or what they were doing, but that’s because I was wholly engrossed in you, finally meeting you, finally holding you in my arms, kissing your slimy head (babies are really slimy when they’re first born, it’s okay, I kissed you anyway), knowing that no matter what else happens in life, it’s gonna be you and me.
Daddy can come too 😉
(we rather like him, after all)
I love you, baby. Happy, happy, happy birthday.