There is something about you turning four and a half that has me a little emotional. First, it’s probably my last half-birthday letter to you. I decided a couple of years ago that I would keep the half-birthday letters going until age five, at which point it would be time to reduce them to simple yearly letters. My thought was that a child’s biggest growth — in mobility, vocabulary and personality — happen in the first handful of years of life; after that, I figured there wouldn’t be enough to say between birthdays.
I would hate to become redundant, you know.
Of course, true to form, you have continued to surprise and amaze me, and I have found that the past six months have showcased some of the most remarkable changes in you.
Sweets, you are really coming into your own. You seem happier, calmer (well, slightly), and just generally more in control of yourself and your emotions.
Look, you’re an intense person. You always have been, and I suspect you always will be. That’s ok; it’s a good thing. I love having a son who feels things deeply. I think your sensitivity is a gift.
But strong emotions are hard for a little kid to manage. In the past six months, though, you have demonstrated that you are learning how to do this. Sure, it means some fist-shaking, some foot-stomping, and a whole lot of door slamming. But you are using your words more, and you are learning to walk away from the source of frustration to calm down rather than lash out. You are accepting hugs more, breathing more deeply, and visiting Time Out much, much less.
You are doing so well in school. I want to cry just typing that because your first year of preschool was rough. It’s not your fault, really; you’re an energetic boy who was in a program that didn’t allow a safe, productive way for you to get that energy out. The result was that you got yourself into trouble. Constantly.
But this year? This year, your teachers make a point to tell me how you’re one of the most polite little boys they’ve ever had in their class. That your vocabulary is ridiculously expansive. We already knew this, of course. You regularly bust out incredibly adult-like phrases. You might say, “Well, according to this…” as you study the directions to a game. If I interrupt you, you’ll look at me pointedly and say, “As I was saying…” When we tell you something you’re not sure how to interpret, you respond with a, “Hmmm. Interesting.” You recently ran up the steps to our front door and turned back to tell me, “I was off like a shot!”
Off like a shot. It might be the perfect way to describe you. Your energy remains endless. You run and jump your way down hallways and streets, up stairs, and through life. It is something to behold.
Perhaps the biggest change for you since turning four is that we told you we are going to adopt a child, that you will become a brother. One of the greatest joys of my life has been witnessing your excitement, the way you already love your “yittle brother or sister.” (You don’t yet realize the brother or sister might actually be bigger.)
I have admittedly been focusing much of my attention on getting your sibling’s room ready. A lot of packages have been arriving on our doorstep over the past several weeks, and your face lights up when you see each one. Not because you hope it’s something for you but because you hope it’s something for your brother or sister.
I knew you had a big heart, Ryan, but I don’t think I fully appreciated the depth and purity with which you love. Your sibling will be awfully lucky to have you in their corner.
We’re coming up on the two-year anniversary of our move from Arizona to Pennsylvania, which is also the two-year anniversary of my decision to trade in the 9-5 work life so I could stay home with you. I’ll admit it — the thought of being home all day terrified me. I worried I’d feel bored or lonely or somehow unfulfilled. It was needless worry, though, because it turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. I will always cherish these days, months and years we have had together.
You make me and Daddy so darn happy, dude. As we always tell you, we love-you-love-you-love-you-love-you.
Happy half birthday, Ryan.
Previous birthday letters to Ryan: