Friday, February 28, 2014

Happy Birthday MattMan

Dear Son,

I say it every year, but I simply cannot comprehend where all the time has gone. At 12:42 today, you turned five. Four means you're still my baby. Five means you're a big boy. Practically grown up in every, single way. Like every other red-blooded American child under the age of twelve and *ahem* a certain 32-year-old that I happen to know well, you're obsessed with the movie Frozen. I asked for, and received, the soundtrack for Christmas and it's a wonder the thing still plays what with all the use it has endured in these past two months. You constantly ask to listen to it. On occasion you'll want to start with the "cut the ice" song but usually you want to go straight to "Let It Go" and, because you're my son, you want the Idina Menzel version and not the one sung by Demi Lovato. I'm proud of you, Son. If you can choose Broadway stars over Disney turned pop stars, my advice is to do it. Every time. In the song, there is a line that says, "It's funny how some distance makes everything seem small." I'm sure this isn't solid advice for every situation. I can't imagine that the passing of time would make mass murder seem like a tiny thing. Nor should it. But that line has recently struck me as truth in my own life. Crisis+distance=Small. I look back, in the rear view mirror, and the stress just disappears on the backward horizon until all I can see are the stones of remembrance I've brought along with me. This manifests itself in the way I catch myself saying things like, "When I had Matthew." It's as though I sometimes forget that I didn't actually give birth to you. It's the way that I remember all those months of wondering if you'd forever be mine but I can only vaguely recall how much it hurt. The place where the pain used to be is filled with your smile, your squealy laugh, and the sound of your little boy voice.

That space is also filled with the sound of your sobs each and every time you see an image of Krang (or, as you call it, "The Evil Brain") from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Just the other day, it was actually warm enough for you to wear a short sleeve shirt (IN FEBRUARY! IN UTAH!) to school. I took a new Ninja Turtles shirt out of your drawer, pulled the tag off and the next thing I knew, Garrett had spotted the image of Krang off to the side. I promise you, Raphael, Donatello, Leonardo and Michelangelo were at the forefront. Krang was a total afterthought. But, once you saw that image taking up residence on your shirt, you flipped your everloving lid. Flipped it. Straight off. I was eventually able to convince you to wear it to school, but only after covering it up with a Batman hoodie.

You amaze me with how quickly you learn new things. By the end of June, you knew all of your letters and could read easy two letter words. By the middle of autumn you could read level one kindergarten books. Now, you're cruising through Bob books and once a week you go and read to the kindergarten teacher that Garrett had last year. You ask to do flash cards. You know tons of colors, shapes, numbers and sight words. 

Not only is your mind thirsty for knowledge, you're a sieve for learning new physical things. You're obsessed with gymnastics and we're giving you lessons for your birthday. Several weeks ago we watched "The Gabby Douglas Story" together and now you're trying to learn how to do a flip. You attempt to cartwheel everywhere. You can still stand on your head and almost do the splits. Last Saturday we took you to watch the University of Utah gymnastics team take on Oregon State. You sat on my lap and watched the entire meet stating, when it was over, that the vault was your favorite thing to watch. I'm sure that you'll wonder why you don't get to do it on your first day. You're also wrestling for the first time this year and you love it! Of course, like everything else, you seemed to pick it up quickly, mastering the "duck walk" on your very first day. 

I love you more with every passing day. I love hearing you sing from your seat behind me in the car. I love when you move sideways toward me, your cheek leading the way, and ask, "Are you gonna kiss me on my chubby cheek?" I'm slightly less thrilled when you tell me that you're going to kiss my chubby cheek but that has a lot more to do with the fact that I don't really want to have chubby cheeks. I do love when your lips pucker up and plant one on the side of my face though. I love your giggle, your muscular little body, the fact that you hold your friends hands when you go places with them. 

I do not really love Picksaw. Picksaw (if that's how you spell it) is your imaginary brother. I never had an imaginary friend. I once tried to pretend I had an imaginary friend because I thought it would be cool but keeping up the charade was exhausting. It lasted no longer than two days. Your dad never had an imaginary friend. Your brother never had one either. So, this is new territory for us. It's annoying. First, let's start with his name. Just. What? Picksaw? Also, sometimes you do naughty things and then blame them on Picksaw. This led to me opening the door and telling Picksaw to get out. I explained (to the air) that I would not have naughty children living in this house and that he was welcome to stay if, and only if, he could behave himself. Picksaw's been the picture of perfection ever since. But he still bugs me. Because his name is Picksaw.

For the very first time, you requested a location for your birthday party. In years past we have just picked for you because you haven't had an opinion. This year you were dying to have a party at Chuck E. Cheese. Initially, we said no. Chuck E. Cheese parties are expensive and their pizza tastes like cardboard. You continued to ask. With your big chocolate eyes and your pearly white smile and your fat toddler cheeks that I secretly hope stick around for awhile, you pleaded. 

I gave in.

Because you've never asked for a party before. And because you've got me wrapped around your little finger. So tonight you and a handful of friends are going to go celebrate with an oversized mouse. You are bouncing off the walls excited. And we are excited to celebrate you. 

On this day we celebrate our rough and tumble, intelligent, coordinated, snuggleable, incredible kid. We celebrate who you are and the amazing gift we got when your mother sacrificially chose to let us have you. We celebrate five years of knowing you and loving you. Happy Birthday to my MattyMattyMattMan. You're one in a billion and sometimes I still can't believe that you're mine.


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