(Pictures to follow tomorrow)
Today you are 4 years old! I feel like you’ve been 3 for about a lifetime, probably because you’ve been really good at it. You have grown in so many ways this year that it’s hard to know where to start.
You repeated a year in preschool this year, which wasn’t the original plan, but ended up being the absolute best thing for you because you have absolutely blossomed socially. You have friends who enjoy spending time with you. You initiate and participate in conversations with other kids. You’re even doing art voluntarily and sometimes enjoying it. Next week you meet your new teacher for room 2 and I think we’re both equally nervous. At the very least you have a great group of friends going with you.
You are incredibly smart, which is not new. You catch onto things quickly and retain information in incredible ways. I so wish you would use that ability for something useful but instead you’re currently reserving it for obscure Pokémon facts that almost no one except you and Elijah care about. It’s astounding.
You continue to be incredibly strong willed, generally to your own detriment. You have a hard time picking battles and are willing to die on just about any hill you find. Often publicly and loudly. I can’t remember the last time we went to Target where I didn’t have to pretend I couldn’t hear you scream while other moms gave me looks of solidarity. Three is hard on everyone and someday when you have to parent a 3 year old (if you choose to have kids) I will giggle quietly to myself the way my parents do when they watch me, the person you inherited these tendencies from, try to parent you.
It’s easy to just label you as willful and miss what lies beneath, because you are very, very willful. But beneath that, you are also the sweetest, most sensitive soul. You love your family and friends and all animals intensely. You love to be hugged and snuggled and squeezed, but on your terms only. You like loud noises or messes only when they feel good to you and you are overwhelmed by the same feelings other times. I don’t always do a great job of being patient with your sensitivity, which is one of my goals this year. To look beneath the behavior and see how I can help you, rather than stop you. I’m still learning from you and for you, and I hope you know that I’ll never stop trying to make things easier on you.
Your likes this year include: your family, especially “your baby”, most animals, especially if they are soft and/or cute, dinosaur chicken, Ritz crackers, brownies, swimming, pretend play with any figures you can find and if you can’t find figures you use your fingers instead, being snuggled, Wild Kratts, Pokemon, making Benjamin smile, making Elijah annoyed, making other people laugh.
Your dislikes include: dogs, unless they are small or are so afraid of you that they stay across the room from you, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that ooze onto your hands, deviations from your routines, large groups of people and when Elijah purposefully (and masterfully) antagonizes you.
This year has been a deeply good one, but also a different one. Having a baby forced you to find patience in a multitude of situations. It made you fiercely protective and more observant. It meant less time for the two of us, but we find time during Ben naps to snuggle and bond, not that we have ever struggled to bond to one another.
It would be inaccurate for me to gloss over how challenging you can sometimes be, because it has been a major theme of this year. Your passion is hard to manage at times. I know that someday this passion will serve you well because apathy isn’t in your playbook. It’s not a bad thing to have big feelings and I know that it’s not because you’re not a great kid, it’s because you don’t know how to channel that passion yet. You don’t know how to go 50 miles per hour instead of 100. You don’t know how to stop before you’ve reached full speed. We will figure it out together. I promise.
I often lament that you are hard to parent, but you are also so very easy to love. You are incredibly kind to your brothers and others around you. You are super funny and not a day goes by that your dad or I don’t crack up at your silly face when we’re trying to be serious. You love fiercely and loyally and that’s a tendency I hope doesn’t fade with age.
I hope you know how much you are loved. Elijah adores you endlessly. He always wants to buy you things and while he loves to irritate you, he also loves to make you smile. Benjamin absolutely worships the floor you walk on. No one can make him laugh quicker than you. Your baby absolutely lights up when you enter a room.
Your dad and I feel the same. We know how lucky we got when we had you. We see you, who you really are and we are always aware of how luckily we are that you are ours. That we get to guide you through this world.
William Louis. I can’t believe you’re 4. I hope this year is easier for you and that you continue to grow and thrive, and that your heart continues to be tender and kind. Happy birthday my dear boy. I love you so very much and I cannot wait to see what this next year brings.