"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Thursday, April 14, 2011

a letter to Evan, on his birthday

Man, buddy. This has been a big year. I feel like I watched you grow from a little boy into a little Kid, right before my eyes. You achieved some Major Milestones, like using the potty, playing your first sport, and going to school...

...but more than that, our relationship has changed from one of Mother-and-Baby, where I meet your physical and emotional needs and you coo and cuddle sweetly and appreciatively, to one of Mother-and-Son, where we have to figure out, not only how to work together and find compromises to meet each other's needs, but also how to adjust to and nurture your developing personality. It hasn't been easy, and it hasn't always been pretty, but it's all been worth it.

The minute you were born, I became a Mother. I think, over the course of this past year, I have started to become a Parent. Thank you for that. For all of it.

I am so amazed by you; by what you know, what you can do, what you care about, and who you are. When you were a tiny baby--probably just three or four months old, a stranger--an older woman, dressed in a traditional Indian sari--approached us. She took one look at you and smiled. She turned to me, with a twinkle in her eye, and said, "This is a special one. He's very bright. You're a lucky mother, but he'll keep you on your toes. Enjoy him."  I'll never forget her, or the way she looked at you and the way you met her gaze. How did she know?

My All-Time Favorite Contemplative Evan picture
You were a sponge when you were little, soaking everything in and processing it all. Now, you're so much more. You are a receptive, reflective, responsive, and interactive part of this world and I am absolutely in love with watching you learn. And you learn so quickly and so deeply, that I have to pay really close attention, or I'll miss something....like the time when you asked me "So what happened to all the plates in Japan?" I wasn't sure what you were talking about until you explained that we had been talking--months earlier, I'm sure--about how the earth was different during the time of the Dinosaurs. That the plates beneath the Earth's crust were moving and shifting, creating different land areas. I had said, at the time, that when these plates shift, they can cause earthquakes. A mere mention of the devastating Japanese earthquakes in March caused you to recall that conversation and you demanded an explanation. I did the best I could with my somewhat limited knowledge of plate tectonics. It won't be long, I'm afraid, before we'll have to consult with the experts in order to come up with an explanation that is satisfactory to your unquenchable thirst for information.

You're thirsty, for sure, and always have been. After "backhoe," the word "why?" quickly became the most predominant word in your vocabulary. This year, however, you started to do more than ask questions. You want to share with the world all that you have learned. I can't tell you the number of people (teachers, neighbors, friends, family members, etc.) that approach me to relay an adorable story about you. And they all start like this: "Evan came up to me and said, 'Let me tell you something....'" You catch everyone by surprise with what you know. Everyone just loves you, baby.

But maybe no one so much as your little "Boo Boo Baby Maxwell." [I'm going to start crying now.]

Evan, if I were fortunate enough to be able to hand pick the Perfect Big Brother for that sweet baby, it would be you, every time. You were born to be the Big Brother and you excel at it. You are a leader, always willing and able to teach Max everything you know from table manners to proper motor and siren noises for different vehicles. You are patient and forgiving when that King Kong Baby tramples over your GeoTrax town or bulldozes (inappropriately) through your construction site.

 You let him tackle you and drool on you in his many, many attempts to hug and kiss you. You read him books. You applaud his achievements. You protect him (mostly from his own danger-seeking personality). You involve him in your make-believe scenarios and, through that, you are teaching him about creativity and imagination. You sing to him and make him laugh his big huge belly laugh. You make him light up more than anyone else when he sees you first thing in the morning. He wants to use the same cup you use....sit on the same side of the table as you....and play with the same exact toy that you are using. And you let him, but not always, because you are also teaching him about sharing, and taking turns, and being patient.

Before Max was born, I worried about not being able to divide myself equally between you two. That both of you would just end up wanting more of me than I could give. I could never have predicted just how much you two are here for each other...that having two babies didn't divide anything at all....we multiplied. Evan, Max loves you so much, and he truly does look up to you....and it's a good thing, too, because I'm pretty sure he's going to close the gap on the three pounds that separate you two in the next few months!

Sometimes I wish I could look into a crystal ball and see your future...just a glimpse....to see where you are and what you're doing. I know you're going to do Big and Wonderful things. You are already passionately interested in important issues facing your future and the world you will inherit. Ever since the Safari Ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom, you've worried about the fate of the black rhino. And since reading the book Penguins! by Gail Gibbons, you've become concerned about oil spills and their effect on the dwindling penguin populations. You are going to be a Worker Man, yet you have already promised to cut down only "old trees, where there are no bird nests or squirrel nests or monkey nests....wait, monkeys don't make nests...I'll only cut down trees with no monkey homes." Your compassion for all living things and your innate sense of right and wrong humbles me and makes me so proud.

And your exquisite imagination will provide you with unlimited access to new ideas and novel approaches to solve old problems.

[Just an aside about your imagination...your imaginary world has expanded of late, to include a bull, whom you ride to get places quickly...as in when I say, "Come on, Evan, we need to hurry to the van!" You respond with, "Giddy-up, Bull! Let's move!" There is also a "Grandpa" who just returned from a research expedition on the island of Texas, where he was studying the gorilla population. You and "Grandpa" will someday open a Gorilla Sanctuary together. I really can't get enough of your stories and ideas, Evan, and thank goodness for this space where I can record them all so that I won't ever forget them.]

You are my sweet, smart, opinionated, complex, funny, loving, deep-thinking and imaginative little boy. I love you to infinity and back.

Lesson Learned:
As much as I can't wait to see you when you've found your Perfect Place in this world, I can. I'll wait patiently and enjoy each moment of the Getting There, because this--the Growing Up--is already going way too fast.

On your Fourth Birthday, Evan, my wish for you is to be little and innocent, and to keep having big ideas and a big heart. And my wish for me, is to be present in your Now and to stop worrying so much about your Tomorrow or Next Year....because, Evan, my love, you're going to be Amazing.

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