Sunday, July 20, 2008


I have other friends who write their children touching letters every month. I don't think I have that in me, but I can at least do it once a year.

Nate and Will:

You're two, and that's amazing to me. When you were born, your great aunt and uncle bought you some bigger-kid clothes. Your mom and I looked at them and couldn't imagine a day when you would fit into them. A few months ago, you outgrew those clothes.

You're both constant balls of energy, always running around and shouting out nonsense words in a pitch that only dogs and parents can hear. You move so fast that normal still photography can rarely capture both of you in the same frame. A few days ago, I tried to take a picture that had both of you in it, preferably both facing the camera. The photo you see above is as close as I got.

As you grow older, it's fun watching your personalities develop. Most intriguing is your ability to defy easy categorization. Most people like to slap labels on twins like they're members of some prefab boy band. "So, who's the quiet one and who's the crazy one?" "Who's the smart one and who's the athletic one?" The other option is to believe that you are identical. Neither model really works with you two.

What you have in common is exuberance and a happy nature. Like any budding two-year-olds, you have your moods. Sometimes you can get grumpy or fight over a toy or lose patience with each other. But for the most part, you're really good natured. You're happy most of the time, and you continue to be patient with your first time parents. You're both curious about the world around you and anxious to share your experiences with us, even if it's in a language we can't quite understand yet.

Most of all, you're excited about things. You're excited about the little plastic car you've pushed down the ramp. You're excited by the duck you've just seen in the pond. You're excited when your tired and sometimes crusty dad comes home from work. That attitude makes your dad somewhat less tired, and perhaps even a little less crusty.

But you are starting to develop your own differences. And it's been fun watching that, too.
Nate: over the past year, you've become a bookish daredevil. (note the bruise on your cheek in the photo above) You've discovered the joy of jumping, and your lack of fear has put the fear of God in your dad.
This is actually nothing new. When you were very little, I used to throw you high in the air. You loved it. You would look at me, expecting to be tossed even higher, but I always lost my nerve before you did. Once you started riding on swings, there wasn't one at the playground that would swing high enough for your taste.
Perhaps the best example came on Friday when you rode your first ever carnival rides. We strapped you and your brother into a small car, and you were both smiling. When the car started to move, Will burst into uncontrollable sobbing. And you? You were beaming. Your grin was as big as I've ever seen it. The wind was blowing through your wispy blond hair, and you were in heaven. Parents live to see their kids have moments like that.

Over the past year, you've also developed a love of books. For a kid who doesn't know how to read, you spend a lot of your time leafing through books. While you have many favorites, nothing can possibly equal "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." You read this book many dozens of times per day. You have your mom and I read it to you more times than we can count. Sometimes, you even read two copies of the book at once.

Fun story: when your mom and I went to Turkey last April, we left you and your brother at your grandparent's house. Your mom read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" into an audio recorder just in case you started to miss her. When your grandpa played that audio, you grabbed your book and turned the pages at all the right times... even when your grandfather started messing around with the speed settings on the recording.
You also seem to love the taste of books. You eat a lot of books. Most of your favorite titles have huge holes in them, gnawed by you. A book can only be in this home for a few hours before some piece of it isn't missing. One day I'm convinced you're going to crap the complete works of Eric Carle.

Will: You're a daredevil of a different sort.

Although you're only two, you excel at social situations. When we take you to the nursery at church, you dive right into the fray, playing with toys and the other kids. You can often be found smiling at or waving to other kids, or your parents, or that dog that just walked in front of the house.You've also become very affectionate lately. You've learned to kiss, and you give your mom and dad kisses all the time. Now you've expanded your circle by gathering together all your stuffed animals and kissing them. (If you're not nice to me, I'll tell that story to girls you know when you're 16.)

You're also good about giving out hugs. When I come home, you (often) run towards me and give me a huge hug. Sometimes I'll ask you, "can I have a hug?" And you'll walk up to me, throw your arms around my neck, and rest your head on my shoulder. These hugs are some of the most cherished moments of parenthood so far. I will treasure them forever.

You're also quite a talker, Will. For a while, you would walk around the house pointing to things and repeating, "this one? This one? This one?" Now you've taken to constructing long and elaborate sentences out of sounds that aren't really words. I've even herd you whispering those sounds to yourself as you play with toys. Is this some fantastic language you've cooked up on your own, or are you simply running down every possible sound the human voice can make? I don't know but it is fun to listen to.

You have learned to speak with your hands, though. You use the sign for "more" a lot.

Coming up next is the stage people call "the terrible twos." It's the age where you little guys will start to assert your own will more than you have so far. For parents, this can be an unpleasant time.

But this year I hope that you will be able to retain some of the joy and the excitement of life that you're displaying right now. In the next few years, you'll learn to be cynical and you'll probably pick up some sarcasm as well (I don't know where from). But still try to hold on to a little of what you've got now. It will serve you well later on.

And finally, my birthday wish this year is the same as it was it was last year: that you see past the imperfections of this deeply flawed world you've been born into and find deep and lasting joy here, and in doing so, may you make the world just a little better than before you were here.

Happy birthday, little guys (for your 2nd, birthday, I promised I would stop calling you "babies"). I love you more than I could ever express in writing. But never forget that I love you. Always. No matter what.



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At 6:42 pm, Blogger Ellen said...

Those boys sure are cute and sure are lucky to have such a great Dad! Happy Birthday boys!

At 7:06 am, Blogger The Morgan Family said...

happy birthday nate and will! uncle bob and aunt steffie love you! even if your dad won't say it anymore, you will always be your dad's babies.

At 11:41 am, Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Beautiful -- the words, and the boys.


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