To the boy who made us parents:
You have completed six years of life. It was a special birthday for both of us, though we couldn’t really put our finger on why. You told me “this year feels more important,” and it did.
As a scholar I’d say it was probably our completely average timing of entry into middle childhood, which is really a much more dramatic stage than its name suggests. The age when archaeologists tell us most children were finally weaned. When baby teeth begin to fall out. When, in traditional societies, children would be expected to start taking on roles with responsibility in the home and community. The precursor to the precursor of adolescence.
In our home it was just a special year, no more and no less.
This was the year that you completed the transition from wanting only me to none of me at all, if there were other children to play with. Even though you felt guilty for not wanting me, I didn’t mind. I’ve been wanted enough for several lifetimes.
This was the year you began to offer to do helpful things when you saw me struggling, and make a point of letting me know you were sorry when I didn’t get enough sleep or had a bad day.
The year you stopped napping. The year you started reading. The year you stopped being nervous at the idea of being dropped off for an activity without me. The year you started seeing your baby brother as a person and appreciating his potential as a playmate and friend.
This was the year you stopped being afraid that anyone who came to play would take All. Your. Things.
The year you started helping me in the garden, and did the work to make your own bed. And decided you wanted to make your own birthday cake (phew).
The year you learned to save your allowance. And started choosing your own clothes (unfortunately, as we’ve got you covered for the next year but now all bottoms must have belt loops).
The year you started exploring the woods alone. And I didn’t know where you were or what was happening. And it was okay. Better than okay. It was good. Really good.
This was the year you asked big questions about your big disappointments and sadnesses and then paid focused attention to my answers, knowing that I would take you seriously and that if you stayed still you’d find out what you needed to know…like why your brother gets more of my time. You sit perfectly still as I explain about the development of small humans, and how you were when you were his age, and how it won’t last forever. And you take it inside you and put it away in the places it needs to go. Figuring out what you need to be okay. A brunch date, please, a few hours just us? Yes. I can’t wait.
There will be other amazing years. Or perhaps all years will start to look amazing. Maybe the pace of change will remain fast and this will just seem like the first year of the new normal.
I don’t expect to know anymore. To have any idea what lies in store. I don’t care. This is good. You are good.