21 January 2010

belated birthday post

Dear James,

I'm a month late with your birthday letter, but surely after eight years of living with me and your dad, you've learned that punctuality is not something we're known for, nor does it run in the family, so I know you'll forgive me. I know this, too, because you're a forgiving sort of person, quick to move on, never holding a grudge.

Thank goodness for that, because this year you are beginning to make comparisons between your life and the lives of your peers, and you're quick to let your dad and me know when we fall short of the parenting ideals. Too many chores, no allowance, we never take you to McDonald's, that sort of thing. You like to inform us of all of the wonderful things you'll do as soon as you turn eighteen. I almost died the day you added "buy whipped cream in a can" to this list. Someday you will understand that your mother always whips real cream not because she hates you and wants you to be weird, but because she loves you and wants you to enjoy real food.

Yesterday you were angry with me for one of my many parenting failures and you demanded, "How do I know you're my real mother?" It's hard to tell sometimes, because you are still so remarkably like your dad. Your second-grade teacher is very impressed with your math knowledge and skills, and she told us how surprised she was during the first week of school when you informed the class about negative numbers. I would have loved to see the look on her face a couple of weeks ago when you went to school armed with the information your dad had just taught you about imaginary numbers.

You take after your dad in so many ways. You share his curiosity about the world around you, and from him you've learned to turn to science for your answers. You're so imaginative, always coming up with new ideas. You share his love of games, especially video games. You can be so silly -- you should have seen the look I gave your dad when your teacher told us about all of the weird noises you make in class, seemingly without even being aware of making them -- but you still have a surprising attention span, especially when it comes to drawing and reading.

Now, reading: that's one way I know you're my son. When you find a book you like you get so wrapped up in it that you can't put it down. You don't hear people talking to you, you carry the book around with you when you're forced to do something other than read, you bring a flashlight in the car so darkness won't prevent you finishing this chapter. You're reading books that are shelved in the Young Adult section of the library, yet you still like to be read to at bedtime.

It's a strange age, eight. You're navigating the gray area between childhood and adolescence. You like to snuggle on the couch and watch nature shows, yet you like to rock out to Weezer. You play Legos and cars with your brother at home, yet on the playground at school you and your friends play Twilight. I was the kind of kid who always felt a little out of place at this stage, but I think you're enjoying it, being able to move within two worlds.

You and your brother are still great friends, but I've noticed a bit of a change this year. It's becoming apparent that you are growing older, your tastes are changing, and you're a little less content to play the same old games. Sometimes you even decline to play with Evan in favor of reading, which sends him running to me, pleading can we please not get Calvin and Hobbes from the library anymore because all James does is reeeaaaaad!!! Evan gets frustrated with your growing maturity, but you are often kind enough to humor him.

It's fun being your mom in so many ways, James, whether you're telling jokes or drawing comics or helping me cook or regurgitating facts you've learned from Nature or Nova or from your dad. I like watching you crack up while you watch movies; I like sharing favorite books and movies and music with you and knowing you're old enough to really appreciate and enjoy them; I like overhearing you sing songs or recite poems you've learned at school; I like to see you drawing charts and graphs for fun, or designing board games, or writing stories.

Thank you for helping make our lives so much fun, James. Happy belated birthday. I love you more than any blog post can convey.


Jessica said...

these are such beautiful letters that you write for birthdays. What a fun set of pictures, too!

John S said...

I love these, and was hoping I'd see another one for James. Thanks Heidi... it's nice to have a window like this into your lives since I can't participate as often as I'd like.

Peter said...

There's nothing wrong with occasional whip cream in a can! Sometime I'll have to sneak him some easy cheese!