Written the morning of my son’s fifth birthday.
Last night – the last night you were four, and I didn’t fall asleep till after midnight because for some reason I didn’t want four-years-old to end – you asked me a question. How I love your questions!
How big is a five year old? you asked.
Well, my dear son, now that you’re a bona fide (that means, for really REAL!) five year old, I’ll let you in on a little secret: You’ve been growing into a five year old all year! And now, here you are – all five years of you!
You don’t know it, but… you’ve inspired me this past year (and all your years). To return to my passion for poetry. You are my poem. You made me a mother for the first time. You think I’m fun and funny and perfect – and someday you’ll discover I’m not really, but I love that you think this of me now.
Today you are five.
And today my dreams came true. Well, one dream came true the day you were born. But I had another dream. Of a day after babies were born, a day when our house would be full–
of busy feet
snuggles before bed
and someone to discover with me anew those Caldecott winners and Newberry books I’ve held so dear.
You don’t care what awards they’ve won, I know. But I am downright tickled pink that you dive into Charlotte’s Web, The Cricket in Times Square, and even the Little House series with me. I can’t tell you how much I adore reading these stories to you.
This past year, as you turned from four to five – I’ve cried a lot. Because I don’t want to lose my baby. And five seems so big – such a new and huge chapter for you. But I’ve seen you grow from a baby to a boy with so much creativity, tender-heartedness, and big ideas about everything.
I know sometimes you’re scared. You are sensitive to noise, and bad guys, and strangers. We watched that shark IMAX movie for your birthday and you hid in my arms the entire time, but I saw you being brave – saw you peeking out from under my arm while I covered your ears. I admire you for both knowing your limits, but also being willing to gut it out and push past the fears – just a little bit.
You’ve accomplished so much this year–
You wrote your own book about sharks
Learned to play the tin whistle at a piano sound level!
Ran in 2 races (and 8 miles of practice)
Pet a jelly and a sting ray
Climbed a giant rocket slide till my heart lurched into my throat
Learned to count to 100 – by ones and by tens, no less!
Became so adept with scissors, our floor is often coated with a snowy layer of paper flakes
Developed an interest in science and card games and karate and camping and cooking and… so many many life interests right now!
You’ve been so blessed – and you bless us in so many ways. What I love about you is how you take your time, observing the world around you, asking lots of questions. You love to tickle and be tickled. You are forgiving, helpful, earnest, eager, and loving – you watch out for your younger brother, always share your snacks, and never leave him behind. You’ve shown me the beginnings of your character: compassion, loyalty, fairness, kindness, curiosity, creativity, ingenuity, and a big, big heart.
How big is a five year old?
As big as those handsome blue eyes
As big as your heart
As big as your imagination
As big as your dreams
Go on. It breaks my heart. But go on. Be five. Be as big as you can be, my dear. You made my dreams come true – now it’s time to follow yours!