When I was thinking about what I wanted to say to you on the cusp of your official Three and a Half Years Old status, I read back through all the other birthday and half-birthday letters I’ve written you.
There is a theme to the words I use to describe you: Smart, passionate and sweet.
Smart… In the past six months, the depth of your intelligence has continued to surprise me. It’s not just that you know the name of every dinosaur or that you remember minute details from events I’ve long since forgotten. It’s also the way you use language so precisely. Like the time last week when our cable inexplicably went out; I cheered when it came back on and discovered we hadn’t lost our recorded shows. You cheerfully yelled out, “Well, it sounds like it’s working again!”
You unexpectedly throw around knowledge we didn’t know you had. Like one recent morning when we were discussing what we’d dreamt about the night before. I told you I dreamt of flying pigs and you scoffed at me. “Pigs don’t fly, Mommy. Pelicans fly. They swoop down to the water and scoop up fish to eat. They like puffer fish.” Well, ok then. Consider me schooled. You also pretended to refuse to learn our address for a school project until one day when you randomly grinned and shouted it out. (You’re not just smart; you’re like your mama — a perfectionist. You don’t like to play your cards until you know you’ve got a winning hand.)
Passionate… I also like to call you tenacious. You know what you like, you know what you want, and you go after it — no matter who or what is in your way. At three-and-a-half years old, yeah, this can be a little frustrating for your parents. Obviously you can’t have everything your little preschool heart desires.
But kiddo, this is one of my favorite qualities about you because I just know this trait will lead you to success in your life, whatever “success” means for you. When you like something, you’re all in and you want to learn everything you can about it. When you want something, “no” is unacceptable. It may cause us to butt heads sometimes, but know that it is something I truly respect in you.
Sweet… Oh Ryan, you are the sweetest being I know. No matter what is happening or how frustrated you are with me, if I ask you for a hug or a kiss, you deliver. We end every disagreement with a hug. We heal every stubbed toe with a kiss. You told me the other day that I’m your best friend. When you apologize for something, you look me straight in the eye and say, “Mommy, I am SOOOOO sorry.” It melts me every time (see also: smart).
I call you The Little Emotional Barometer of our family. If you see that you’re getting on my nerves, you say to me, “Mommy, don’t get frustrated. I need to see a happy face!“ If we’re stressed or upset, you feel it and act out accordingly. If we’re content and happy, so too are you. You’re an old soul.
I need to add another characteristic to describe you now: Creative. Your imagination and creativity has flourished in the past six months. Watching you play and act out TV skits or create little random scenes with your toys has been one of the most unexpectedly wonderful parts of being your mom. It is so amazing to see how your mind works, to watch you take things you see in real life and apply them to play. As an admittedly uncreative person myself, I hope I can find ways to help you foster and grow this quality because I find it so very magnetic.
I’ve written a lot about you over the past three and a half years. Sorry about that. That’s the hazard of being born to parents who make their living with words. So if one day, you go back and read all those words; if you read about the times I was frustrated or worried or stressed out about some particular phase you were going through, remember this: the hard moments were expected and they were fleeting. It’s supposed to be challenging to raise a child. We knew that going in, and we still chose it. And we made that decision before we even knew you and fell in love with you.
What I’m saying is that you are so very worth it. Even on the days when your three-year-old antics make me nuts, I miss you while you’re upstairs napping or having quiet time. Now that I have you, I could never feel complete without you.
You make me so proud. Every single day.
I love you so-so-so-so much.
Happy half birthday.
Previous birthday letters to Ryan:
I'm Meg. I grew up in Ohio, came of age in Arizona and am now raising a family in Pennsylvania. I'm a freelance writer, an essayist and a stay-at-home mom to a spirited four-year-old boy. We're on a journey to adopt our second child through the foster care system. I'm told I am too organized and too sarcastic for my own good but I don't see how either is possible.
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