Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Letter to Grown-up Sam on his Fourth Birthday

Dear Sam,

This week, you will turn four.  Four! I wish I could save you up, your four-year-old self, to show your grown-up self all the treasures you embody just now.  You stretch my heart hard, you pummel every boundary, and I love you for it.

If I were a painter, I would want to paint you at your softest, sweetest - maybe leaning over a delighted baby Kachi, showing him your new robot figurine. I would paint the sun washing over you both so bright and totally lost in the moment.  I would catch the details of your hastily-cut nails, the unevenness of your haircut, the way your pants never seem to sit straight on your body - because who has time to stand still while mama fusses? Not you, my darling whirlwind.
I would include the socks which are evidently too small, because you are growing faster than I can remember to replace them.
I would try to show that moment when Kachi reaches out with everything he's got - both hands stretched toward you, fingers clumsily half-extended - smiling so big it bursts into a squeal.  The way you look into his eyes with tenderness and wonder.  You are so sure he understands every word you say.  (He does - at least, he gets the heartbeat of it, and that's the kind of listening that really matters anyway.)

But that kind of picture wouldn't show all of you, because you've got a big dose of feisty too.  You've got a strong aversion to sharing and you've started saying NO with your new big-kid stubborn jaw and you don't see anything wrong with using the hands God gave you to get what you want.  You adore Vava and want to spend time with her but you like best when she is at the scary end of your pretend dinosaur claws.  Sometimes I feel like all I do, all day long, is say no to you.  And that's hard on both of us - I know.

But you remind me in the heart-stealingest ways that even in the maelstrom of defiance and timeouts you have this wild soft heart that just aches for love.

I tried it once, giving in to God's pressure on my own angry heart to speak peace instead of anger when I just wanted to yell you to your room.  I cleared my angry eyebrows and swallowed the volume and looked up the stairs and said gently I'm sorry for yelling and I want you to know I love you even when I'm angry.  
And your beautiful brown eyes welled up and that chin stopped jutting and started trembling and you replied I love you too and I forgive you.
And now it's part of our everyday, like oatmeal, like kissing, like brushing our teeth.  I love you even when you don't let me push buttons on the computer.  I love you even when I'm angry with you. I love you even when you put me in timeout. I forgive you. I love you.

It's not easy being four.  I know I expect a lot.  Share and take turns. No, don't share your boogers.  Use your words.  Not those ones!  Play with your toys.  Clean them up.  Don't throw toys. Throw the ball!  Help Vava get out of her crib.  Never lift Kachi out of his crib.
But even though it's hard and confusing, you have some really amazing victories.  You (almost always) say excuse me instead of interrupting.  You are really great at using your words to tell me how you feel, and you are increasing in understanding how other people are feeling too.  You have a tender heart and always ask if I'm okay when I hurt myself.  You build really great things with Duplo ... dinosaurs and robots and towers with identifiable features.  You sing to yourself when you get lost in your play, and you love a good story.

YOU HAVE MEMORIZED TWO BOOKS!  (And a whole whack of songs.)  Vava and Kachi both love when you read to them.  You can pour your own drink, open yogurt cups, and crack a pretty mean egg. You even drew a picture of me (it was two giant legs, a giant bum, and an unbelievably tiny head.  It was a good reminder that I need to spend more time at your eye-level ;) ).

I'm sorry for the times I ignore you or miss the everyday wonder of you.

I'm grateful to be your mama, and glad like a blue sky full of sunshine that you are my boy.

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