Happy Birthday! You were born 6 years ago today. You were a healthy and happy baby. I was so blessed. You liked to eat a lot, which helped you grow so very quickly. For months, you never went more than two to three hours between feedings, so I didn't sleep much. I was tired a lot. Your sister was amazed at how big you were, and how fast you grew.
I used to gaze at you and wonder, what would your personality be? Who would you become? I still wonder who you will be when you are "all grown up." But at least now I can clearly see the personality of the wonderful child you have become.
You are generally a happy child, enthusiastic and excited about whatever fun things we plan, whether it's a walk around the block with the dog, a bike ride to get ice cream, a trip to the zoo or the children's museum, or a trip across the country to the beach or to grandpa's house. No activity is too big or too small to spark your happy smile.
You are also very bright. Your sister would have you think otherwise. She sometimes tells you that you are stupid, or that you don't know how to do things right, or that you aren't as fast or as smart as she is. This makes me sad, because when she says these things, I can see the self-doubt creeping into your expression. I tell you that of course you're not as fast as she is and you don't know as many things as she does... yet! She is nearly 5 years older than you and has had a lot more time to practice and to learn. I also tell you what you want to hear, that - just wait! - one day you'll beat her in a race. And some day probably sooner than either of you expect, you'll know more than she does about something! I just hope you can keep a realistic sense of how bright and smart and interesting you are until then.
I also tell you that you don't need to compete with her to be your own special, smart, capable self, who I will always love. I can tell that second part doesn't mean much to you now, but I hope that in time you will come to understand that your worth is not measured in comparison to your sister. You are your own wonderful person, with different interests and capabilities than your sister, but certainly no less valued for being a different person. I love you both, with all my heart. And I hope you will accept her for who she is, too (flaws and all), and not hold it against her that she is so wildly competitive at this age.
My son, I can already see that you will someday be an excellent father or uncle or perhaps a teacher or pet owner. You are compassionate and kind. Always the first child to comfort another who is crying. Always the first to ask, about a stray cat or dog, "where will it live? who will feed it? is it sad because it has no home?" You like to ask me how my day was, and you like it even better when I actually answer you and don't just say, "fine." You like to bring me water when I am sick, and you could sit for hours and pet our poor old doggy, who is probably not going to live a whole lot longer, while telling him what a good dog he is.
You are charming, and you have a great memory for details of things you have done, places you have been, and even things that people have told you. You remember details of our vacations from two years ago, and you remember all your preschool teachers' names.
You love to give gifts, and to watch people smile when they open them. You love to get gifts, too, and you are so unabashedly thrilled with everything you get, that it makes the gift-givers smile at how well they have pleased you. I wish everyone had your ability to make others smile!
I can also see that you will grow up to be brave and strong. You were so scared of heights at age 2 that you refused to even walk on a 1 foot high ledge without a "death grip" on my hand and you would not even go down the "baby slide" at the park. Yet, when you saw your sister taking gymnastics and walking on the balance beam, you said, "mommy, I want to do that." So I signed you up for gymnastics. You were terrified at first, and would not climb up on the trampoline, nor walk on the beam on even the lowest setting. But now, if somone will simply walk next to you, you will creep across that balance beam. I can tell you are still very scared, but you face those fears and do it anyway because you trust your coach to keep you safe and you want to conquer your fear. That is true courage: being afraid but going forward anyway. And now no slide is too high for you, and you love walking along low block walls, curbs, and ledges when we are out walking in the neighborhood.
School is not your favorite activity. You always tell me your favorite part of the day is lunch and recess. For a long time you resisted even learning your ABC's, I think in part because you were scared to compete with your sister and come up short. But, with some encouragement at home, you have learned to read and you are now so proud that you beg me to let you read me stories every night. I love that, and I always let you read one for me, sometimes three or four. I can see the pride in your face as you decipher each new word, and enjoy each new story. We need to work on your counting next.... I bet you will be adding and subtracting before we know it!
You like to tell long, elaborate superhero stories. I have to admit, sometimes I am just not in the mood to hear about who is fighting who and what bad guys they are catching. But I try to listen when I can, and to encourage your imagination. Perhaps one day you can be a writer for a tv show or a comic book... or even write a novel. You really are quite creative and imaginative.
You are a little bit of a picky eater. You don't like cheese (except on pizza), which I find strange since it is one of my top three favorite foods (along with coffee and chocolate). You don't like cake much, but you love hard candy and lollipops. You like ice cream cones. You are obsessed with bananas. You could eat strawberries until you turn red. Apples and carrots and black olives make your list too. And any kind of meat. And frozen peas, literally frozen, straight out of the freezer. But you don't like pasta much, or chicken nuggets, or other similar "kid favorites."
And sometimes, you can be so ... difficult. Obstinate. Ornery. Whiny. Argumentative. Ay yi yi. That is usually at night when you are tired, though, and by morning all is forgotten. Of course, sometimes in the morning when you are tired, it is hard to get you out of bed and you are whiny still. But other days you awaken eager to face the day, and you come bounding into the kitchen and give me a huge hug and a beautiful smile. I love those days.
You use logic well. A little too well, sometimes, when you remember details and know how to weave them into an argument for what you want that is hard for me to resist.
The bottom line, my son, is that I am very proud of you. I am enjoying your childhood and I don't want you to change and at the same time I can hardly wait to see who and what you will be when you are in third grade, sixth grade, ninth grade, a high school senior, a college kid....
Happy birthday, my son, happy birthday!
And Happy Earth Day, too!