Saturday, August 4, 2012

To Evan, On Your 4th Birthday

My sweet boy,

As I write this, you are falling asleep in your brand new bunk bed, with the Beatles playing softly through your stereo.  Your class at Abeona House has spent the summer studying the Fab Four, and true to form you have become a connoisseur.  Your favorite tunes are 'Help' and 'Eleanor Rigby,' and we've had many discussions over the last few weeks about the meaning behind the lyrics--you really seem to connect with "all the lonely people." Where do they come from, Mama? Why are all the people lonely? How do people get lonely and how can we help them?

Needless to say, you're a heartbreaker.

You've grown so much in the last year, but you're still the same loving, empathic, powerful, funny, and observant little boy.  J. is still your best friend; you still love Legos.  You're still endlessly affectionate and exquisitely sensitive, and rambunctious and wild and talkative and bossy. You are perfectly happy to play alone, creating elaborate "bad guy" scenarios with your Legos or drawing or looking at books, but you also love your friends and family and talk about them constantly.  There is a quiet, commanding wisdom that surrounds you (maybe it's the Force?) and coupled with your tiny stature, it gives people pause.  People often ask how old you are; they can't quite believe that such a powerful person could exist in such a small body.

You are precocious.  The other day, I came home from a run and you followed me into the bathroom while I washed my face.  Positioning yourself on the stool next to the sink, you rested your chin on your hand and said, "So. How's your running going?"

You are super affectionate.  You have this thing where you like to squeeze "lovings" into other people and at any given time you apparently have "4 and 5" lovings in your body.  A few weeks ago I asked you for a hug and you said, "I can do that, Mama.  I have a lot of lovings in my body."

Your nickname at school and home is "Red Sprite." This came about when you watched your sister and her soccer pals order their team drinks after games; you were fascinated by the various sodas and one week at school, when you all had the opportunity to identify your fairy/spirit names, you chose Red Sprite.  And it suits you perfectly: you are all impish fire.  This spirit, coupled with your natural empathy and compassion, is so incredibly compelling--you're a force of nature.

You've started to talk about what you want to be when you grow up.  Right now it's a tie between astronaut and baseball player.  Although you've never attempted either endeavor, it's thrilling to watch you consider your future, and your identity.  You're also interested in ballet, which makes me excited, but I know not to push you too much--you have a natural tendency to balk against expectations.

Oh, but you do love to dance.  Whenever Sydney plays that Katy Perry song you drop whatever you're doing and shake your money maker; I apologize in advance for the humiliation that I will be unable to refrain from showering upon you in your young adulthood.

This year you will play soccer, and practice writing your letters, and learn about the Solar System (you and Syd have plans to make one from scratch), and visit your cousins in Florida, and draw ninjas, and get ready for big kid school.  You'll grow out of your clothes and stop using your binky.  You'll fight with Sydney, testing your burgeoning identity against her solid strength.  You'll help me make banana nut muffins--your favorite snack--and before we know it, you'll be 5.

Tonight, over your birthday dinner, we had a long talk about the 'Neverending Story.' You had a lot of questions about The Nothing, and the Swamp of Sadness, and the bullies who hound Sebastian.  You are amazingly perceptive: you wanted to know why the horse sinks in the swamp, while Atreyu survives. You identify with those characters--Atreyu and Sebastian, who are one in the same--because they share your beautiful mix of strength and vulnerability.  We talked about the threat of sadness and the power of imagination and beauty, and you seemed to accept it, to hold those things together.  I hope that you always feel comfortable bringing these questions to me.

Evie, I love you.  So many people love you.  I've learned enough about life to know that sometimes the weight of other peoples' love and expectations can be so burdensome, but I hope that when you read this some day in the distant future you will know that our love comes without expectations or burdens; that we just want you to build a life for yourself that is beautiful, and full, and true, and creative.  Like the Lego sets you own: each comes with a set of instructions, which we dutifully adhere to, only to end up with a jumble of parts that we (you) joyfully retreat to each morning, assembling pieces into new and amazing configurations--an endless source of re-creation.

Happy Birthday, my beautiful boy.  We look forward to all of your creations.



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