05 June 2009

four years old

Dear Evan,

Today you're four years old. This is an important birthday -- this year was the first year you've really understood what birthdays mean, and you've been waiting for this day for a long time. Since James' birthday back in January, every time we've gotten a new Lego catalog you've gone through and pointed out to us which sets you wanted for your birthday. For the last week, you've been counting down the days.

When Grandma arrived this morning to spend your birthday weekend with us, she asked you how old you are now. You replied three, and wouldn't admit to being four yet. Eventually we were able to understand that you didn't think you actually turned four until you had the birthday cake. Eventually we were able to make you understand that this isn't true.

You've grown up a lot this year. I'm not foolish enough to tempt fate by saying that your tantrums are completely over, but I really think we're getting close. We can even go whole days without tantrums, sometimes! You're learning to control your temper, and I am so proud of you when I watch you struggle not to scream or flail or explode, when you express your emotions with words, because teaching to do those things has been a very long, hard road for both of us, and I think you're finally coming to the end of that road.

Lately you like to hear stories about what you were like as a baby. I tell you that we used to call you Monkey Paws, Crazy Eyes, Tomato Face. I tell you that you've always been a picky eater, and you've always been a reluctant, light sleeper. I tell you that your first words were "ball" and "car" and that you loved mama's milk and that you've always adored your brother and you just eat up every word.

Your imagination continues to surprise me. You're so inventive, creating names, putting together costumes, designing Lego ships, constantly narrating stories. Now that you're learning to draw recognizable pictures, your creativity is blossoming even more as you color monsters and Pokemon. You and your brother spend hours together inventing and creating and designing and building.

You are still stubborn, still willful and determined. Now that your tantrums are fewer, though, I'm coming to value these qualities in you because it shows you know your own mind. You're full of confidence. You hate being told what to do, and you won't take no for an answer. I keep reminding myself that someday your persistence will be an asset in achieving whatever you set your mind to.

Physically you're still spirited and rambunctious. You run almost everywhere. At the community play classes we went to this year, you tested your physical capabilities and limitations, often threatening to give me a heart attack with your stunts, jumping, leaping, diving on the mats. Any time I asked you to stop doing something dangerous, you'd look at me with that pouty lip and say, "But Mom, it's so much fun!" At playgrounds, other parents watch you with worried eyes as you climb structures they don't think someone your size should be able to climb. You like to tell people that you're small, but you're very strong.

It's been a difficult year for you in some ways, now that your brother is going to school full days. Learning to play without James alongside you, and learning the patience of waiting for that bus to arrive every afternoon have been hard for you. Yet you've done it. You two are still best friends, and you still miss him while he's away, but I think you've grown into yourself more as an individual without James. You can't wait to go to school now yourself.

We've had a good year, Evan. Maybe even our best. You're learning so much: you can write your name, you can read simple words, you've learned to dress yourself and do some simple chores around the house. You hardly nap anymore, and are learning to deal with being overtired. You are naturally very resistant to change, but you are learning to be a little more flexible when it comes to trying new foods. (We're still working on your clothing and shoe issues.)

Also, this morning, after years of thinking you'd never be able to, you learned how to roll your tongue:

Four years old, Evan, but I'm still allowed to call you my baby. I love you.

1 comment:

John S said...

Wow, Heidi. Thanks for sharing your birthday letters to the boys. They always get me misty. And a very happy belated birthday to Evan!!