Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy Birthday, Garrett

"Young boys should never be sent to bed... they always wake up a day older."

-J.M. Barrie in Finding Neverland

Dear Boy,

Five years. It seems so monumental, so impossible. I simply cannot believe that it has been 60 months since they laid your tiny body on mine, since I first stared into those steely colored eyes, since I first knew what it was like to be a mommy. I will never be able to adequately express the wonder I have in being blessed with the joy of raising you.

These are the days when you vacillate between being a baby and a grown up. When you talk about the Bible or use your enormous vocabulary, it's as though you're more like thirteen going on twenty-two. When the thunder claps just above our rooftop and you break into instant sobbing with a look of panic streaking across your face, you seem to be two going on two-and-a-half. At night, when I watch you sleep, the corners of your mouth dip down exactly as they did when you were an infant. During the day, you run and play and jump and climb with the ease of a teenager.

We struggled with making the decision whether to send you to kindergarten or put you in another year of preschool. We listened to every opinion, weighed the options, and finally decided to endure a son who is eighteen for his entire senior year. Please, Bud, please don't make me regret that decision. It's just that when you use your big words and your bigger social skills, we know you're ready but when we think down the line we wonder if being the very youngest and one of the smallest (sorry, blame daddy's genes for that one) is in your best interest. Not that we can really do anything about the small part. So we decided to give you a chance to gain confidence in your education, to be one of the oldest, and to mature. You'll be in advanced preschool next year. You have the next couple of decades to go to school for hours every day, I hope you enjoy having this upcoming year to play and grow and eat paste if you feel like it.

This past year you played soccer and took swimming lessons. On the soccer front, you need a little more time to come into your own. There were a few times when you had a great run but if the ball was taken from you, well, you needed some work on sportsmanship. We did what any red blooded American would do and bribed you into having a good attitude. I'm sure there are naysayers who'd be appalled to know that we aren't above bribery but to them I say, "It totally worked." As far as swimming is concerned, you've turned into a little fish right before my eyes and to my sheer delight. I think you would willingly go to the pool every single day if I'd agree. You can now swim about three yards unassisted which isn't quite as advanced as your dear old mom was at the same age but I'll take it. Seriously, I'm super proud of the progress you've made and the fact that you want me to teach you how to bodyboard when we head to California next month. Obviously you'll be in a life jacket for this adventure as I'm sure that your swimming skills aren't exactly up for a current just yet.

This year you made friends with ease and invited all of them to church. No joke. Any time you make a new friend you ask me if he loves God. If I say that I don't know you will reply with, "Well, we need to find out. He should come to our church." Usually an invitation will occur quickly after. You simply are not afraid to share your faith and sometimes I think you have more of it in your little finger than I have in my entire body. It's a faith that will move mountains, Garrett, and I pray that you cling to it always, through whatever life throws in your direction.

You love to help. You love sweets. You love when we curl up into my bed at night and read chapter books. This year we've read three and a half Narnia books, several of The Magic Treehouse series, Charlotte's Web, The Trumpet of the Swan, Ramona the Pest, Little House in the Big Woods...and I'm not even sure if that's a complete list. You love when I take you to the dollar theater for our cheap dates. You especially love when I splurge and buy you popcorn. You love to ask questions. "Mom, can an ant carry a marshmallow?" "What's a calorie?" "How tall was Goliath?" And you ask us to define words for you all day long. "What's the resurrection?" "What does fragile mean?" "Why is it called a nasal aspirator?"

Garrett, you are constantly growing in knowledge but I don't think you've gained more than a pound in the last year. You've certainly grown upwards but not outwards. You were so scrawny when you were born, then you fattened up into that chubby-toddler-I-look-like-a-rosy-cheeked-Virginia-ham stage. Now, there is no question that you've thinned back into lean slice of turkey. All this talk of food is making me want to smothered you in more kisses than I already do. Just last night, I gathered you into my arms, planted kisses all over your face, and told you that I was refusing to allow you to turn five. "Can you turn four again, please?" I asked, nicely.

"No mommy."

"Why not?"

"It's just my age. I can't do anything about it."

Sigh. That is the age old problem. Our lives just go ticking away and suddenly we're staring down the barrel of thirty and we're pretty sure it's loaded. I know that five seems so little to you. You say, so often, that you can't wait to be all grown up. This is mostly because you want candy for breakfast and you know that when you're an adult that choice is yours. But Son, five isn't little. It isn't little at all. It's halfway to ten and more than a quarter of the way to all grown up. Five is worlds away from where you've been. Four years ago you couldn't walk. Three years ago you could barely talk. Look how far you've come.

I love you.

So much. Thank you for sharing your life with me. It's a big life and I know that God has really big things in store for you. Please don't grow up too fast. You have a lifetime for that. Turn five if you must, but don't be in such a hurry. Giggle. Play. Learn. Grow. And know that I will spend each day loving you more. Five years ago they handed you to me. You are everything I ever hoped for.

Happy Birthday.


  1. Hey... My boy is 12. He'll turn 19 a week(ish) after he graduates high school. We waffled with our decision. Most of his close buddies went on to kindergarten while he hit preschool for one more year. And it has all worked out...

    It was one of the very best parenting decisions we ever made. Though he is one of the oldest, he is still one of the smallest... bless his heart. But academically it was even a better decision for him. It has given him time.

    Besides... I just don't know that giving a child more time to be a child can be bad... Of course, it's easier to say on this end of the decision :) Of course we know our own children best... :) I think you made a great choice :)

  2. Lori, I follow your blog from NY. I held my daughter out for a year - she had a september b-day and our cut off was December1. I am so glad I did. It turns out that 8 of the 18 children turned 6 before the cut off!