05 June 2008

happy birthday, evan

Today feels like summer. The cottonwood trees are spreading their fluff all over the neighborhood, making it look as if it's snowing, and I wonder whether you will ever really see snow on your birthday. Maybe one day you'll travel to Australia or Chile or the Himalayas and celebrate a winter birthday.

One of your most prominent traits to develop over the last year is your sense of adventure. It's easy for me to picture you climbing mountains or crossing the outback when you get older, because those things aren't so very far from diving fearlessly off the side of the couch or charging off on your own in strange places.

Your independence and your will have continued to grow this year. Now more than ever you are doing things for yourself, and you are as insistent as always that you do things your way. You have a very un-toddler-like quality of being incredibly determined and single-minded, frustratingly so.

But that doesn't mean that you don't still need us. Because no matter how stubborn and determined and aggressive you can be, you are in equal measure affectionate and loving. One of my favorite times of the day is naptime, when we lay quietly together in my bed and you pet my hand and I get to watch you fall asleep. Every day.

One of the things I love best about you is how free you are with your emotions. You still scream, oh yes you do, about all kinds of things, but when you're not unhappy, you are very, very happy. You are the most generous child I've ever seen when it comes to spontaneous acts of affection -- unsolicited hugs and kisses and snuggles and I love yous. It melts me every time.

You've grown delightfully silly in your third year. In fact, it's hard for me to tell how much you really know, because counting and reciting the alphabet and rhyming are games where you like to send yourself into fits of giggles giving wrong answers. But just when I start to think I've got a backwards child who can't even count to five without mistakes, you count perfectly to twelve. You like to keep us on our toes, in all kinds of ways.

Your creativity is blossoming, guided by your brother, who you are very easily frustrated with and angered by, but without whom you're a little lost sometimes. You and your brother devise clever games in which your identities are always changing, in which the adventures never end. Your imagination has grown in leaps and bounds this year. It's incredible to watch.

Something that puzzles me about you is how easily you identify with the bad guys. Your favorite part of The Wizard of Oz was the flying monkeys, you've requested a Darth Vader cake for your birthday, and you're the villian as often as you're the hero in games with your brother. You like the bad guys because they are big and strong. I hope to help you learn over time that strength isn't always physical.

We play a game at meals, at almost every meal these days, in which I tell you and your brother to stop eating, because I don't want you to grow any bigger. This is the only trick that has ever worked more than once to convince you to eat more than a few bites of dinner. "Look, Mom!" you tease, "I'm growing!"

"No!" I say. "You two are growing too fast! Stop growing! I want you to be my babies a little longer!"

And you think I'm kidding.

I love you, darling boy. Happy birthday, today and for many years to come.


Jessica said...

That was absolutely beautiful, Heidi.

Happy birthday, Evan!

Ren said...

Very sweet. I hope this is a new tradition you're starting. Wishing you all a happy year for Evan's third.

Emily said...

Awww, so cute! Happy birthday, little buzz lightyear!

John S said...

Aww... how sweet. A very happy belated birthday to one of my two favorite nephews. It was SO wonderful to spend a few days with you and see for myself what an incredible young man you're becoming. Thanks for not screaming and running anymore when you see me. =) I really hope to see more of you and your family soon.