Four years.

Dear M,

You turned four years old this week. Allow me the cliche, “where has the time gone?”

But, seriously, how are you four?

Your mother and I were just talking about the day you were born. Four years ago, at 8:28 pm, you came in to our world.  Unlike your brother, who was sleeping when he was born, you let the world know how unhappy you were to be out. Within 30 minutes, you had knocked my glasses off (and you still laugh at that story). Little has changed since then.

Okay, that may not be true. You’ve grown up, and grown up fast. I often want to tell you to slow down, but you have never been one for waiting. You walked early, talked early, were potty trained at 3. You talk to us as an equal, which often freaks me out. You recently started asking us the meaning of words you hear your mother and I use that you don’t understand. (We are now more mindful of what we say around you.) You still don’t understand everything, but you like to use the “big words” you learn. You recently told me I looked very familiar, which you took to mean weird (thanks), but it was still odd coming from you.

You’re almost done with your first year of preschool. You don’t like it much. Your mother and I are now concerned that you’re bored. You went in knowing most of what they were going to teach you (courtesy of your brother) and we find ourselves teaching you things from next year to keep you interested now. You want to tell time, and know how money works, you work on puzzles that have 100 pieces and seem to just know how they go together and you ask me all the time about my computer and what it does. I think your school is going to have a hard time keeping up with you. I worry about that, but am proud at the same time.

You have not, however, lost the attitude you were born with. You get frustrated easily and angry even quicker. Just this morning you threw your blanket at me because I was awake before you wanted me to be (you gave a sweet little ‘good morning’ to the dog and then yelled at me). You get upset with me a lot. You are the sweetest most loveable and gentle boy, until I piss you off. We chocked this up to the terrible twos, then threes, but now wonder if maybe this is just your personality. You are not a morning person. When you’re tired, the whole world knows about it. You throw borderline temper tantrums to get what you want, even though they never get results. I often find myself wondering if you’re just upset with us for not understanding what you’re thinking.

Despite all this, you are a cuddler, and I love it. You aren’t happy watching TV unless you’re in someone’s lap, you’ll cry at the top of the stairs some nights because you’re lonely in bed and you still love to sleep on my shoulder. You’re getting so heavy, but I refuse to give this up yet. No matter how angry you are at me, you don’t fall asleep until I’ve given you a hug and often beg me to lay with you in bed (which I do, until I’m dismissed). It’s often funny to see the sweeter side of your disposition. (The freckles you now have across the bridge of your nose and cheeks make your angry faces hard to take seriously sometimes…)

Tonight, we go to pick up your first big-boy bike. You were practically bouncing off the walls of the store when we bought it last weekend. You also asked why you needed training wheels, but I think we’ll keep those on for now. You love kickball and basketball, but I think mainly, you just love to run. The warm weather is here (well, kind of) and you and your brother chomp at the bit to get outside everyday and just run around.

You’ve outgrown most of your clothes and you aim to keep Stride-Rite in business with those feet of yours. You eat almost non-stop. Anything you can get your hands on, vegetables especially. Pasta with no sauce is your favorite meal and lunch is not lunch without peanut butter and jelly (though you’ll eat a turkey sandwich if I slip it in your lunchbag). You love Japanese and Indian food and think hamburgers are “boring.” I hope you learn to cook.

You’re going to your first Red Sox game in two weeks and you’re ecstatic (even though I can’t recall you ever watching baseball on TV with C and I). Your grandfather can’t wait. He and I have been doing this for 31 years now and while you’ve both started a little early, he loves being able to take you along with us now.

Where did four years go, son? I still remember your mother announcing in the middle of an episode of Bones that “something felt funny.” You entered our lives 20 minutes later and haven’t stopped since then. Before you started school you used to stand in the door and beg me to stay home with you and walking away was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I still hate being away from you. I’ve cancelled meetings, skipped events and made excuses to stay home with you. Even when you’re angry at me (or me at you) I know that before the night is out we’ll make up and it all seems worthwhile until we get there.

Happy birthday, son. I love you.

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