It is beyond my comprehension that you are six years old already. I will probably marvel at this year after year on your birthday — “I can’t believe the baby is 40!” — but so be it. You are the baby now and the baby you shall forever remain, regardless of your age.
Six year olds, though, they are big. They tie their own shoes and read their own books and make their own beds. They don’t need their food cut up or their car seat buckled. They play baseball and soccer and swim and they don’t need help with any of those things because they can do them on their own. And that’s you. You are big.
Not SO big, though, that you don’t hold my hand anytime we walk together. Or snuggle up on my lap for a hug. Thank goodness for that, because I know for certain I won’t like the day you stop doing those things.
This past year has wrought some amazing changes in you, my youngest boy. We moved across an ocean and you began your school career in a new place surrounded not by people who knew you since before you were born, but by strangers with accents you did not always understand. Because school in England begins at age four, you were also a full year behind your classmates in terms of being in a class all day. In addition to all that, we learned that the way they teach the youngest grades here is very different from the way they do things back home. Kids here learn their lowercase letters first, which you could identify but had not yet really written. And they also teach the alphabet phonetically, so instead of learning “A, B, C” the children here knew the letters by their sounds: “ah, buh, sss”. So very confusing.
But you, my bright and shining boy, were not daunted. Not even a little bit. You threw yourself into school with the same joyful abandon and wholeheartedness with which you do everything in life. Your teacher was an amazing help and we worked hard at home every single night to catch you up with the other children. You never expressed frustration or complained about the extra assignments. We had you work with a remedial specialist, whom you instantly loved, of course. Because you love everyone.
And you thrived.
You conquered every obstacle in your path, you caught up with your peers by the end of the first term, and you surpassed every hope and expectation I had. I should never have had a moment’s doubt, but sometimes I still can’t help thinking of you as a baby who needs my help. You killed it though. And you continue to rock school every single day. Well done, my boy.
It was so hard dropping you off that first day of school and walking away. You did not cry, did not hesitate; you were so excited to FINALLY be going to school. I managed to keep a brave face, I got in three or four or ten hugs before I left, and then I walked around the corner from your classroom and sobbed buckets. You had been my daily companion for more than five years, and now you are off, for seven hours a day, forever, and I am home alone without you. I miss you, but such is motherhood.
You have grown up so much through this experience that sometimes I look at you and my breath catches in my throat as I realize how mature you’ve become. You go to school each day happily and with great expectation that you will have a wonderful day. You read beautifully and love to do it — and I am always grateful to sit and listen. It makes my heart so full of happiness that I think I cannot bear it. You have made good friends and you know every person in your grade and most of the children in the grades above and below you as well. Your friendliness knows no bounds and your willingness — no your eagerness — to talk to anyone and everyone is one of my favorite things about you. You see no reason why you shouldn’t befriend anyone who crosses your path, and that is a lovely thing to watch.
You’ve not quite developed a full British accent, but you’ve got one with any word you didn’t know before we moved here. It’s comical to listen as you chat along in your normal American accent, then throw in a random word here or there in a British accent without even noticing. It’s even better than if you had switched over completely because it makes me realize what new things you’ve learned.
This year has been full of adventures, and you love them. Although your older siblings sometimes get sick of me waxing poetic over how lucky we are to be living here, traveling, and experiencing all these new things, you never do. You don’t roll your eyes at me; instead you talk about how COOL it was to climb to the top of the castle tower and be able to see across the English Channel. You are not bored by anything, and it’s so much fun.
You see the best in everything and everyone, and because of that, people want to be their best around you. You can make your sister smile even when she’s grumpy, and that is an amazing power to have over an 11-year old girl.
You hold your own with your big brothers and have become one of the little threesome instead of the baby tagging along behind.
You worship your father and the feeling is mutual; I love watching as you build Legos together or play baseball or “work out” at the gym together almost as much as Daddy loves doing those things with you.
How much better all our lives are because of your smiling face.
You are my happiest, sweetest, most joy-filled little baby and I am grateful for you every single day. I cannot wait to celebrate you as you turn six, and I thank the stars every day that I get to be your mom. I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck. Happy Birthday, my baby.
Also, Quinn’s birthday letter from last year.