Today you are five. You were due on my birthday, my 40th birthday, and I wanted so badly for us to share a birthday. But you've got your very own good one.
You are so very much your own person. And yet, I see glimpses of myself in you. Sometimes I see you holding back in a new situation, on a new playground, at a party (with a clown, and face painting, and balloons!), anywhere, really. You suck your thumb and sit on the side. When you were younger, sometimes you'd hide behind my leg.
I used to want to push you forward, saying, "Go, get out there, have fun! Interact with the other kids!"
But I realized that your behavior was a mirror of my own. You sit on the side, playing with a truck, or digging, or whatever, until you are comfortable. And then you jump in.
You are intensely sparked by some people, and indifferent to the rest. I've seen this over and over; you meet some little kid and the energy between you is palpable. Immediately you are playing fire trucks or diggers or whatever.
As for the rest of the crowd, meh. You've got your own foundations to dig.
Last year your Spanish teacher was of no interest to you. She's a kind person, but she doesn't have a compelling personality. And so you paid her no heed.
It was a problem. She didn't interest you, and you weren't faking it. As you get older, you will have to learn to fake it when you need to.
During spirit week at your school last year, one day you were to dress in the garb of your future career. You said you wanted to be an artist.
"What does an artist wear?"
"A striped shirt that says ARTIST." (Duh!)
Basically, you've moved on from wanting to drive an 18-wheeler for a living. Particularly after you learned that India didn't want to drive alongside in a fast garbage truck.
You still love pink and purple and sparkles and tutus.
And you see nothing wrong with wearing them with monster truck apparel.
You love to dance, and you are the first one to jump when I suggest an underwear dance party.
Speaking of, you're also the one who fights the rule that we need to at least have on underwear when we have guests. Nanga punga is still your preferred state.
Months ago I bought you and your sister fuzzy pink Hello Kitty crocs, and you loved them so. You wore them to school a couple times and then you stopped wearing them. I know you got teased. I know because I asked your teacher, who said yes, you did, and then there was a big class discussion about how boys can wear "girl" things and how girls can wear "boy" things and really it doesn't matter. (She loved your crocs. She loved you, she really did.)
But it clearly affected you, because you stopped wearing them. And now they're too small anyway.
You did, however, go to school with some of your nana's green eyeshadow one day. Your awesome teacher loved that as well.
Now you have blue crocs, but you also have a pink pair, because you wanted them. When I bought them for you I said, "You know, some kids might tease you about wearing pink. You know this, right?"
"You know what you can say? You can say, 'Don't be ridiculous. Boys can wear whatever they want!'"
I made you practice this a few times. You said, "Don't be widiculous!" and it was one of the cutest things I've ever heard.
Really, I wanted to tell you to tell the haters to just fuck off, but you're only five.
You're sensitive, really sensitive, and I know you get that from me, from my family. Your sister is a little bulldozer, but you feel the world quite intensely. You always have. It makes things harder sometimes, I know.
And sometimes you're so angry. So so angry. When you and I are having a bad moment, it is argh! So frustrating! For both of us!
So. Much. Belligerence!
I'm working on better parenting techniques and on patience. And I think you might be having a giant blast of testosterone lately, because you are so physical. So much kicking, hitting, pushing! And you don't quite understand how big and strong you are.
And then on the other hand, you're so very sweet. Sometimes you're so loving with your sister. And you still want me to cuddle with you when I put you to bed.
You're an introvert. I see you in your head so much, and your imagination is fabulous. Once you learn to read, I'm quite sure you're going to spend a lot of time tucked in a corner, enjoying the magic. I've told you that one of the awesome things about being able to read for yourself is that you can choose any book you want, and read anytime.
There is huge joy in this ahead for you. I think you'll love reading as much as I do. Which is A Lot.
You still dig, and you build elaborate Lego structures, and your buildings and use of color are delightful. While your buildings/camper homes/tanks and other vehicles of destruction tend to be quite modern, I have a feeling you'd like the work of Antonio Gaudi.
You wish we could paint our car red. Or like a rainbow. White and beige clothing basically offends you. You need color. At heart, you are an artist.
You are my first-born, my boy, my heart. My belligerent heart. I love you so.
Love love love,