Today you are six.
I've never written a Happy Birthday letter to any of my children, but felt inspired to do this today. Later, when your sisters ask why I never did this for them, I'll tell them to go take their baby books off the shelf. Then I'll tell them to locate yours. When they say they can't find one I can tell them that this is why I felt the need to write you a letter this morning.
Right now, you're sitting on the couch watching an episode of Bakugan - only furthering that I had no idea what I was talking about when I said I was raising you the same as your sisters. You are every cliche about boys there is. You play rough, walk rough and sleep rough. You even swallow your drinks rough and the sound drives me insane. Sometimes you look at me like I'm made of radioactive materials when I ask you what in the world a "hydranoid". On the other hand, you'd probably think it was "weally weally tool" if your mom was made of radioactive material.
When I look at pictures like the one above, my heart hurts a bit. Don't get me wrong, I am very happy you are the last kid to do everything in our house, but my heart hurts because I can't remember these days as easily as I used to. You had the chubbiest hands. It almost looked like you had elastics around your wrists. I used to kiss those hands on a constant basis. So much so that when you sat on my lap you would immediately put your hands up to my face so that I could make slurpy noises as I devoured them. You would giggle insanely and then rub your hands together because it tickled so much. I can't remember when you did that for the last time, but I wish I had made a mental note to seal that moment forever.
Your favourite time of the day is the last fifteen minutes or so before you go to bed. Every night at about 8:15pm you ask "Is it time for my bedtime snack?". I wonder if you think something will happen throughout the night that will lead to you never eating again because you are so adamant that you eat something before you sleep. You usually ask for cereal or a piece of toast, which is funny because in the morning you always want a meat and mustard sandwich on rye bread. You munch on your cereal and sit with marked anticipation for what comes every night around that time.
Your father bursts through the laundry room door into the kitchen and yells out "Wrestling Time!" You hop off that stool faster than anyone should be able to move after all the running you do in a day and pounce on your dad's crotch area with incredible gusto. I'm sure as you get taller your area of focus will change, and he appreciates that. For the next ten minutes or so you two beat on each other wildly. I know someday someone will get hurt and you usually end up crying, but you always go back for more.
Right now, he's teaching you how to throw a punch properly and while I yell at the top of my lungs just how wrong I think fighting is, I haven't failed to notice how appropriately fundamental the scenario really is. It seems so wholesomely "father and son" that I can't help but smile.
You started playing hockey this year. I'll admit, in September I was worried for you. You could barely stand up without your hockey stick to prop you. Everyone told me to just hang on - that I wouldn't believe the change in you by Christmas. Of course, they were right and now you fly around the ring with speed and as much grace as one of my children with my clumsiness can. You haven't mastered stopping yet so you basically just run into the boards, or other children, but you hate hurting anyone on purpose, so you usually just fall down.
It hasn't escaped my notice that you are a giant. At six years old you already tower a lot of the second graders in your school. You're a massive kid. You have a huge head, big feet and massive hands. You're the gentlest giant though. You would sooner throw yourself in front of a school bus than hurt another child. You've had some run-ins at school and your father has told you to just "throw one at them". This mortifies you! Why would you ever hit someone on purpose? You firmly believe that you can just talk your way out of anything and no matter what the man who gave you life has to say, you are just like him.
During your first parent teacher interview of the year your teacher raved about you. I think you have mutual crushes on each other. She said that the other children look to you for guidance because you are always at the ready to help out and you always get the subject at hand. You're wicked smart and quick to take on a challenge, but you're happy to slow down and help out. She said your speech issues aren't that big a concern and that the once a week therapy you get during school is already working wonders. Though, if you do have one area to improve it's your sloppiness. You loathe zipping up your coat, putting your hat on properly or closing your bag. If that's the worst she has for me, I'm a lucky mom indeed.
I probably let you get away with more than I did your sisters at this age, but besides being tired, I find myself forgetting that you're getting older and should be doing more. I'm making an effort to make sure to include you in all of the family chores I am constantly barking about. You now help unload the dishwasher, set the table, put away clothes and clean your bathroom. Sometimes you grumble, but I just tell you to shut it and get it done because I sure as hell ain't doing it, I hate it! It helps you to get that acknowledgment that it sucks and you like the praise you get when you're done. Just like your father you need constant praise and while it can bleed me dry of energy, I indulge because someday you'll get your praise from other people and what I think of you won't matter as much. It won't matter as much because that your mommy thinks you are the most awesome boy ever will be inherent and implied, but that doesn't mean you'll need to hear it all the time.
For all my talk about you being just like your dad, you are more like me in almost every aspect of your personality. You are loud, obnoxious, inquisitive, contrary for the sake of being so and sometimes taxing to be around in general. But we have our good points too, you know. We're funny and energetic and we always know how to take everything up a notch. Boring can become "I can't believe we did that!" in seconds flat. Hearing "What if we ..." is usually followed by things like "build a fort!" or "make a ramp to jump off of!". I'm sure in your teen years those will be "light this on fire!" or "try to outrun them!", but I may be wrong. I hope I'm wrong.
We're headed out for your birthday lunch now, so I should wrap this up. I just want you to know that when I tuck you in at night and say "You are my most favourite boy in the whole world and I am so proud of you." I mean every word. I want you to fall asleep knowing that your mother thinks you are pretty cool and that each day that you have been a part of this family has been a true gift and lesson. You teach me things on a daily basis. Mostly patience, but even more than that, how to love with my entire being, just like you do all of us.