05 June 2011

now we are six

Dear Evan,

I failed to write you a birthday letter when you turned five, so now I've got a lot of lost time to make up for. You turned six today! It's a little bit unbelievable, how much you've grown. Looking at your six-year-old face, it's hard to find any traces of the chubby-cheeked baby who used to toddle around our house. You're getting taller and skinnier all the time -- those Schmidt genes are finally starting to show themselves.

You've had a lot of big changes in your sixth year. The most important in your day-to-day life was starting kindergarten. Finally, after all those years of waiting, you get to ride the bus with your big brother and your neighborhood friends. Now you, too, get to have gym (your favorite) and music and library and computer class and field trips and bingo nights and all of the wonderful things that come along with grade school.

And you're right at home in school. Your teachers have sent home glowing reports, you're making friends, your handwriting has progressed from shaky preschooler scrawl to careful, precise printing, you're adding with ease (and getting there with subtraction), and best of all, you're reading! You took your time getting into reading, but once you got the hang of it you quickly became a pro. Now you read stories aloud with perfect expression and barely any stumbles at all. You're a huge fan of comics, but you're beginning to make forays into chapter books as well.

School has been a huge deal this year, but you've grown up in other ways as well. You learned to ride a two-wheeler this spring, and you could not have been more proud of yourself. In true Evan fashion, you spent a few days complaining that it was too hard and you'd never be able to do it, and then one day practically without warning you climbed onto your bike and rode off down the street as if it were the simplest thing in the world.

One of the biggest changes since the last birthday letter I wrote you is that tantrums are nearly a thing of the past. You have come a long way in learning to control your temper, and your hard work and practice have paid off. You seem so mature these days. There are still occasional bumps in the road, but you're really learning to master yourself, and I think that makes everyone who lives with you a little happier.

One of the biggest challenges you had to face this year was the sudden death of your uncle John, your dad's older brother. This was your first real, personal encounter with death, and it took some time for you to really process and comprehend what had happened. We were all deeply affected, of course, but it breaks my heart a little that you only had a few short years to know your uncle. I hope you'll always remember how much he loved you.

This year wasn't all changes, though. In many ways you're still the same Evan we've known and loved for so many years. Rambunctious, spontaneous, imaginative, funny, affectionate. Still obsessed with Legos, still in love with any animal you lay eyes on, still ready for snuggling at bedtime. You're still the same unpredictable child who constantly keeps us on our toes. You make sure our lives don't get boring.

Only a day into six years old and we've already been told that six year olds don't need help with things anymore. Six seems to be a Big Deal, the first year, maybe, in which you really believe you have changed. But at the same time you're not in too much of a hurry to grow up, and I'm glad for that, because it's so much fun to be your mother, Evan.