I’ve got some friends who post monthly letters to their children. I have neither the skill nor the work ethic of these two, but I can at least muster one letter every year. And this would be the day to do it, my little guys turned three today… Dear Nate and Will:
It’s hard to believe that it’s been three years since the two of you were born. Back then, we were nervous first time parents who had no clue what they were doing and you were little five pound bundles of need who could cry and poop and not much else.
It’s that mix that makes you two fun and interesting. You’re tough, but not hard. This is the age where many little boys shave their heads and learn to scowl. They’ve already put on the mask of faux manhood and believe that being mean is what being grownup is all about.
Not you two. You both trot through life with wide smiles and a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around you.
But you are tough. So tough it frightens your parents sometimes. Both of you brush off what look like serious spills off playground equipment with little notice of the stunned and frightened expressions of the people around. Sometimes you will run across a field towards each other at full speed, causing a collision that knocks the both of you to the ground. Then you laugh, get up and do it again.
I see more and more of myself in you every day… and I hope that’s not a bad thing. You’ve developed a serious love of music and smile broadly when you hear music you like. You’ve even taken to imitating orchestra conductors when you hear the right kind of music. While this is quite charming at home, it has caused a few disruptions in church.
The other day, we were watching an episode of the Muppet Show together. Danny Kay was performing a song called “Inchworm.” You stood near the TV and conducted the music, but stopped halfway through. You just stood transfixed as a particularly beautiful passage of the song played. When it ended, you looked back at me and you had this certain look on your face. I can’t describe it any other way than to say it was a look of pure joy, and you looked back at me just to be sure I had heard this wonderful thing, too.
At times I’m concerned that my children will inherit all my worst traits. That they’ll become grumpy and picky eaters and talk too much and become overly critical of things that really aren’t important. But Nate, if I can give you one gift in this world, let it be a love of music. It will help get you through many difficult times in your life and bring a special kind of joy even when times are good. When I looked into your eyes after you heard that song, I sensed that you were starting to understand that. This makes me more happy than I could ever explain in words.
It feels almost pointless telling you anything about yourself because you have become expert in telling us yourself. A large percentage of your verbal communication with us consists of Twitter-like updates such as “Will fall down,” “Will hiding,” and “Will eat fruit snacks.” In the past few months, your verbal skills have grown by leaps and bounds. You take a lot of time describing the world around you, sometimes in English, sometimes in a language only you and Nate can understand.
It all serves as an important reminder to me that, even though you are cute as a button, you deserve respect, too.
That’s right, for the next 12 days there will be no screaming in the morning. No tantrums over who gets to open the screen door. No inadvertent kicks to my crotch. No diapers filled with the foulest poop imaginable. And I will miss it.
So while I am away, I will look at these pictures of you and think of the fun we will have when I come home. And until then, I will offer you the same birthday wish I offer every year: may you tolerate and even love the deeply imperfect world you have been brought into. May you find a place in this world where you can be happy. And may you have the courage to make this world a better place than those who have come before you have been able to manage.
I love you both so much.