My dear little boy,
Today is your birthday. Sadly for you, it's also a Sunday and our first day back to church on a new, early-morning schedule (Toddler E was sick last weekend) and you are sick yourself this weekend (mysterious fever and stomach pain be gone, I say!) and your party isn't going to be until next weekend because of scheduling conflicts, so it won't be the most festive day. I'm so sorry! We did make cupcakes for your preschool class on Thursday, rainbow cupcakes with blue icing and rainbows on top, so you have had a little cake, and your Auntie Laqne came through with $5 in coins in a card that has been the only present you've opened so far (and you LOVED the money and immediately paid your tithing and put the rest in an impromptu mason jar bank) but really, your big birthday celebration is coming soon, I promise!
In the meantime, here's my birthday letter to you. You are five years old now. I know I'm supposed to say things like "I can hardly believe it!" and "Where has all the time gone so quickly?" and "It seems like only yesterday you were a baby!" but really and truly, I feel like you and I have worked very hard to get to five years old, and we've both felt every minute of it, particularly this past year of upheaval and change and growth. You have had some rough times this year, adjusting to your new home and new school and new friends, but you have had a lot of successful and fun times as well, and you're finally settled and happy and you told me just the other day "I love Cleveland!" Well, I love you!
I love that you've learned so much this year: you can draw family portraits and dinosaurs and hurricanes and dragons and almost anything else you set out to draw. You can ride a bike with training wheels (though it frustrates you to no end that you can't ride it without them yet!). You've expanded your collection of "special things" so much that it overflows from the box I've given you to corral it all. You've developed a love of origami, if not yet the ability to fold the paper all on your own. You can sing any song you hear, replicate any tune that catches your ear, and are always humming or singing to yourself no matter what you are doing.
I love that you're a good big brother. You are always concerned for Toddler E's safety, far more concerned than he ever is. You try to be obedient and be a good example and are zealous in helping E learn the rules of our house and the outside world. You are always telling Toddler E how much you like Primary and preschool and how much he will like them one day, so much so that he cries every day when we drop you off at pre-K. You remind me of me in the way that you've assumed primary ownership of your "baby" as you insist on calling him even though he basically outweighs you!
I love how much you love to talk. You're friendly with strangers and almost always willing to start up a conversation with any adult. You've made some new friends this year and are always telling me all about your conversation verbatim. You like to repeat the funny parts of the shows you watch right after they happen to make sure everyone realizes how funny they really are. You can make any story good and any additional retellings GREAT with your creative and innocent and often hilarious embellishments. Most people say you sound older than you are, mainly because of your vocabulary. You also still really like words and learning new ones is one of your favorite activities, which makes me happy every day. You can't read yet but spend a lot of time with books anyway, "reading" the ones you already know and making up stories for the ones you don't. We can never check out enough books at the library to keep you satisfied until the next trip, even if we leave with as many books as I can physically carry. And, if you had your way, we would read every single one of them on the first day we get them because you can't take the anticipation!
I love how affectionate you are. You get into my bed to snuggle every single morning and would spend all day in my lap if I'd let you. You tell us all you love us all the time and like to smother your daddy and me with kisses, though your little brother doesn't let you do much smothering of him these days. You still hold my hand everywhere we go and fret when Toddler E lets go. Though you have turbulent emotional seas at times, you can always be calmed by a hug or a cuddle. You kiss me goodbye at school every day and give spontaneous hugs when you're really pleased about something. You may sound older to others, but I like that you're still a little boy in many ways.
Finally, I love how much you've developed over this past year. You went from frequent fits and tantrums to many fewer and much more control over your emotions. You have learned how to interact better with others, though of course this is a work in progress. You've gotten more self-assured and self-confident as you've learned to do new things and adapted to a new place. You took to sledding like a pro after two small runs on a bunny hill and never looked back, for crying out loud! You've begun to learn to talk about your emotions and try to handle them instead of letting them overwhelm you, and you are overwhelmed less and less. You're on the path to maturity, one not-so-baby step at a time.
Happy birthday, J! I hope your upcoming dragon party will be the stuff of legends and next year will be even better than this one!
All my love,