Wednesday, December 16, 2009

To Boy Wonder: On the Occasion of His Sixth Birthday

Dear Boy Wonder,

Tomorrow you will turn 6 years old. Can it be true? Has time really flown so quickly?

These days, you are in kindergarten. You have good friends whose names all rhyme for some reason (Braydon, Kaedon, and Jaydon) and I thank my lucky stars that I somehow missed the “-adon” naming phenomenon.

At this point in your life, you are a simple man. You love legos. You are a joy to watch and you impress P and me more and more each day with those dynamo visual-spatial skills you have. You can eyeball a lego set meant for a 10 year old and build it without looking at the “constructions.” (Yes, that’s the adorable word you use for “instructions.” I love it. I also love how you say “linja” instead of “ninja.”) The things you build and the stories you create behind them are amazing, and I know that you will be just like your great-grandfather someday—a tinker. You have so many interests in life and you are never bored—just like Pop. It’s a great way to be and I hope you never lose your fascination with living.

Six years ago, you saved my life. I thought you should know that. I spent an agonizing four months on bed rest when I was pregnant with you , and each week the doctors would say “Any day now, you’re probably going to have a miscarriage.” But every day, there you’d be, hanging on. You fought for your life and in September of 2003, I prayed for the first time in a long time. I found an old St. Jude medal and I prayed the novena over and over…pretty much until you were born. I still rely on St. Jude to this day, and I have you to thank for “saving” me from a life of apathy, an existence with no spirit.

On the days I get the chance to drive you to school, I drive slowly. With the pace of our lives these days, I rarely get anymore one on one time with you. Do you remember when it was just us? You were my main man, my partner in crime. We sing the Star Wars theme song off-key and too loudly. You tell me about the teachers we pass as we pull in. I want to soak it all in. Those mornings I get with you all turn out to be good days and I know my time with you in the early hours is the reason.

When you jump out of the truck and say goodbye, I want to walk inside with you and make sure all the other 6-year-olds are nice to you. I want to beat up their mothers when you tell me that kids aren’t always friendly. But the great thing about you is that you are resilient. Most times, you let it slide off your back and you find other friends to play with—something I was never good at. I took everything personally, and I’m trying to instill in you that you can’t control others—you can only control how you react to them.
You have been such an easygoing kid your whole life, that I’ve taken you everywhere with me. You grew up in a jiu jitsu gym. Your honorary uncles and aunts have been boxers, world-class athletes, MMA fighters, and jiu jitsu prodigies. To this day, you love going to the gym and seeing “your friends.” You are such a friendly guy that everyone there loves you. That’s true wherever you go.

This year, you got a new stepdad. I wanted to thank you for loving P so openly and ferociously from day one. I’m sure you won’t remember it, but you two go way back. When you were two years old and I was relatively new at Gracie Barra, you ran up to P and did the “you can’t see me” John Cena thing to him, trying to pick a play fight. Four years later, it’s still your favorite thing to do—wrestling with him.

With P, you accepted him immediately. You showed him how to be a kid and how to laugh out loud without worrying who might be watching. You paved a way for your little brother Andrew, helping shape P into the incredible dad he is today. You were his first “kid” and you gave him a crash course in unconditional love and acceptance, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the glue that brought our little family together.

Did you know you are the sparkle in your Nana’s eyes? From the day you were born, you’ve had a bond with her that transcends all manner of grandmother/grandson relationships. You two “get” each other. Sure, you guys bickered and picked on each other during your marathon walks to the park, but it’s because you felt safe enough to have that sort of relationship with her. Nana never lets you down and you know that. You never let her down either. It’s your job to make sure Boo has that same sort of relationship with her—you’re most definitely the guardian of all things Nana.
My favorite memory of you involves your Grandpa Gary. I had to run out and do an errand when you were very, very small and Grandpa volunteered to watch you while I was out. I took you over to the house and when I came back, I found a war zone. Poor Grandpa was on the floor with a naked Boy Wonder, trying to wipe your dirty bum with a handful of Wendy’s napkins. The dirty diaper was stuck upside down on the coffee table, and your grandfather was bright red—either on the verge of laughing hysterically or crying…or both! He’d never been around a baby before you and you taught him the pure joy of a drooly, stinky little human being. You should see all the pictures of you through the years he keeps around the house. You’re his little star.

So here’s to the first 6 years, my little man. If they’ve been any indication, you have a wonderful life ahead of you. Thanks for choosing me. ..I know I’m not your mom by accident.

With love,

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