Friday, July 20, 2012


Dear Sweet Thang,

Do you see what I just did there? I just wrote something with a southern accent. So, you know, if I was reading this aloud to you, you'd inevitably start yelling, covering your ears, and throwing pillows at me with any available appendages. You hate, loathe, and despise (all at once) accents. But let me be clear. You're perfectly fine with them if someone is actually from another place. You just hate when people use fake accents. To you, sweet six-year-old, when a person speaks as though he is from another state or country, he is committing the deadliest of sins.

I don't know what happened to the time. How do you even know what a fake accent is? You're supposed to be asleep in your crib right now. Instead, you're building Lego sets and learning how to surf and devising a plan to systematically eliminate fake accents everywhere.

Do you want to know something? I had no idea that I could love the way that I love you. When I found out that I was going to have you, my heart burst with an intensity that I'd never known before. On the day you were born, it culminated into the fiercest love I'd ever experienced. I thought that was it. My heart would burst if I tried to love you any more. But I have found that it just grows with time and has, at this point, reached somewhat dangerous levels of adoration.

It swells inside my chest when, from another room, you call out, for no apparent reason, "Mommy?" and when I say, yes, you pause and then yell, "I love you!" It happens when you fold your ever growing body into mine at night as I snuggle with you before you fall asleep. I feel it when you score a goal in soccer or stand up on a surf board, or do something really great at school. It's not the accomplishment that does it, it's the smile on your face.

You are going to trot off to kindergarten in five weeks. You're ready. I'm ready. We're all ready. And we should be because we all hung out at preschool for an extra year with the specific task of making sure we accomplished the readiness. But I still can't believe you're old enough to be in kindergarten. I mean, I was just in kindergarten learning about Ollie Ostrich and avoiding the time out chair like it was the Black Death. I was the one, not all that long ago, receiving the stern looks from teachers because I was talking while they were talking. Or talking when I was supposed to be doing math. Or talking just to hear myself talk. And, not to be prophetic or anything but, Dude, that is so you. I promise you that, when I sit across from your teacher during a conference and she tells me that you talk a little too much, I will try not to laugh in her face. I will try to nod and agree that this is a big problem. I will try to sternly tell you that your trap needs to be shut except during preapproved talk times.

But here it is. Here's the truth for you to read when you're older--when you're eight twenty-five. Of course you need to learn when it's appropriate to talk. Of course you need to be respectful of those in a position of authority over you. Of course you need to learn boundaries. But I am simply not going to encourage you to be shy. Who is to say that you aren't going to grow up and be an attorney or a reporter or a politician? Who is to say that you aren't going to talk for a living? Not me and certainly not your teachers. But you should try not to tick off your teachers. That your days may be long on the earth. Or something like that.

I just want you to know that I don't mind if you talk excessively. Because last week you talked and talked about Vacation Bible School until you'd convinced your neighborhood friends that they needed to come. They were excited and ran home to see if they could go with us. Their parents said no and you came back across the street fighting tears. Once you reached my arms, you dissolved into hiccuping sobs. "I want them to come with me so they can know Jesus."

I whispered into your ear, "I love your heart." And oh how I do. Don't get me wrong, when you're busy forcing your brother to abide by the rules of your dictatorship, I'm not so thrilled with it. But when I hear you telling that same brother, "You need to pray and ask Jesus to come live inside you. Okay? Matthew, are you listening? You need Jesus." well, then I'm at least glad that you're a dictator who loves the Lord.

You also love water, playing outside, anything with sugar as a substantial ingredient, the three S's (swimming, soccer and surfing), waking up before anyone else in the house wants to be awake, "helping" me cook, having your back scratched, our pets, and Hawaii--among a lot of other things. Like obstetrics.

Yes, that kind of obstetrics. Although I'm pretty sure there is only one kind. You are obsessed with how babies are born. Not how they're made. Thankfully we haven't yet had to cross that bridge. But you want to know how a baby grows from a teeny, tiny embryo into a baby. Just the other day you asked me what the umbilical cord is attached to on the mother. That started a long conversation in which you were throwing around the word placenta with wild abandon. I ended up having to Google it because you simply would not stop the line of questioning until you'd seen a placenta. A real, actual, human placenta. I've gotta be honest, I don't think I'd seen, nor cared to see, a placenta until I saw my own. Or yours. I don't actually know which of us was the rightful owner of that particular organ. In any case, there we found ourselves, on Google Images, and I thought we should be done after I'd shown you two. But you pleaded, "Show me a few more placentas. Please." And I thought it had to be the weirdest sentence a five-year-old has ever spoken.

Years from now, if you're delivering babies for a living, I'm going to pull this letter up, stab it with my pointer finger and say, "There. I totally called it." And then you can tell me that it's a good thing you're an obstetrician because you need a lot of money to pay for all the therapy to undo what I've done to you on this blog.

But all the trauma I'm causing you aside, I want you to know that you can be anything you want to be and you can do anything you want to do. You are an incredible little man and I wouldn't trade you for anything in this whole, wide world.

Happy Birthday! I love you to the moon.

And back.


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