My sweet boy,
Last night, as we lay in your bottom bunk after reading stories, you made up a game wherein you moved your arms into various poses and my task was to mimic the pose as quickly as possible. True to form, your poses quickly became silly, exaggerated, goofy, and when we were both good and giggly you stopped, put your palms on my cheeks, put your little nose right up against mine and whispered "How about we just stay like this, Mama? I like just being close to you."
I hear parents talk all the time about how they don't want their kids to grow up; how they wish they could stop time; how quickly kids grow up and then the sweet moments are gone forever, lost in the ether of memory and nostalgia. I've never really felt that way. I've enjoyed every bit of your young life, and am excited to think about who you'll be five, ten, twenty years from now. But I must admit, moments like those make me almost desperate to freeze time, to hit pause, to take and stretch them out as wide and far and long as I possibly can.
Because you are an absolutely amazing child. You are affectionate and snuggly; you love to hug and kiss and cuddle and wrestle, and you like to offer backrubs, which feel like a tiny bird prancing across my shoulders (you're also very gentle). You're very silly and have a keen and sometimes offbeat sense of humor. A few months ago, Sydney was on a knock-knock joke kick; in the car one day on the drive home from school, you chimed in from the backseat: "Knock knock." Who's there? we answered. "Camel." Camel who? "That camel is an asshole."
Yes, you also have a bit of a potty mouth. Not sure where you get that. And no, there was not a camel in sight.
You started playing soccer last year, and even though you are small in stature, you're quick and have incredible control. If you get the ball at your feet, you're taking it all the way to the goal. You are fiercely competitive (again, not sure where you get that) and if you don't score as many goals as you think you should, you often become inconsolable. We're working on this, but my hunch is that you have the heart and mind of an athlete, and will learn to cope with the wins and losses.
Your favorite things are your friend James, pizza, visiting family in Florida, your sister, Legos, ninjas, donuts,
superheroes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, dancing, and board games. You don't like swimming, or grapes, or wearing pants, or the song "Eleanor Rigby," because it fills your head with sad thoughts about all the lonely people. You like to problem-solve, to help, and that song is about resignation and helpless observation, which you abhor, even at this young age.
You recently acquired a Roborovski (dwarf) hamster and you named her Sugar Cookie (Sugar for short). Your middle name is Manning but you want to change it to "Cool Dude." All of your stuffed animals are named Evan.
Next week is your last week at Abeona House. You really love your school and your teachers and friends--you're particularly disappointed that you're leaving just as the brand new playground is being constructed--and it's difficult to imagine you at another place, but I think you'll handle this new experience the way you've handled others: with curiosity and confidence and a sweet vulnerability. In just a couple of weeks you'll be off to kindergarten, a big boy at Big School, toting your newly-acquired Angry Birds backpack that is absolutely gigantic on your tiny shoulders. I'm going to try really hard not to be that mom on your first day. I am going to try.
I remember with such clarity the evening you were born. You were so calm, seemed so confident and relaxed from the very beginning. I remember the first night, when the nurse came and offered to take you for a couple of hours so that I could sleep, and though I let her, I didn't want to. I didn't need to; it felt so right to have you here with us. And every moment since then has been filled with joy, and laughter, and dance parties and booty shaking and giggles and yes, sometimes tears and shouting but even those moments are precious. You are precious. I will never know what I did to deserve you.
How about we just stay like this, Evan? I like just being close to you.
Happy Birthday, sweet boy. You are so loved.
Always and forever,