Five! I can hardly believe it. So many big things happen at five, and here you are. You are growing and learning, but the changes have slowed down a bit and are not as pronounced and obvious or as quick as they once were. So I have days – weeks even – when I lose track of how much you are learning until you say a reference or make a joke that seems far beyond your grasp of knowledge and humor. Suddenly I am reminded that you are a little boy, a school kid. There is no toddler left.
This has been such a fun year of watching your interests emerge and develop. You are obsessed with Legos as your toy of choice, and superheroes are your favorite subject. You create “projects” all the time – which, truth be told, are just bizarre creations of cut-up paper, glued on textures, and original drawings. But you see such stories and ideas in them, and I love to watch you create. At night you insist that we read three chapters from your books, and you call them “chapper books” instead of using the real word. “Chap” is a transitive verb for you, and you take pleasure in “chapping” the page by folding the corner down to mark your progress. I know I should correct your error, but I can’t. There are so few remnants of the baby inside that I find myself holding on to a few fading mispronunciations and childish assumptions. I know I’ll forget them one day, and that’s part of my reason for composing these letters for you. Most of all, I want you to know a little of what you were at these ages, but I want to remember these moments myself as well.
You are always doing, always thinking, always exploring. Your curiosity about the world around you, all corners of it, has me learning as well. You still don’t have a grasp on what it takes to go somewhere, so you’ll pause while brushing your teeth or putting on shoes to ask if we can go to Japan this weekend or visit Egypt soon. It’s both hilarious and inspiring that you don’t see barriers on this planet for what they really are. It’s a big wide world to you, and you share so much enthusiasm for other people’s landscapes and food and customs. Your curiosity motivates me to keep doing and dreaming and to stay curious myself.
For all of your funny misconceptions and kid-centered assumptions, you have the kindest heart, and everyone around you notices. You are one of the most energetic kids I’ve ever known, and you typically run at full speed – both literally and figuratively – at all hours of the day. But your outrageous energy is matched by such softness and kindness, and the contrast makes it all the sweeter. You consistently look out for your sister to be sure her voice is heard. And when I arrive to pick up the two of you from school, I usually find you both huddled at the fence that separates your two play areas, talking through the cracks and passing rocks and stickers back and forth. I know you might reach an age one day when you are annoyed to have a sister meddling right behind you, but right now you guys are inseparable.
Along with your kindness to Norah, you are still so affectionate to your Dad and me as well. You’ll huddle with him on weekend afternoons to watch a movie. You hold our hands because you want to. You hug like you mean it. You say “I love you, mama” at least once everyday for no reason at all. You won’t do these things forever, and it’s a gift every time.
In these past three weeks, I can’t help but notice that your age mirrors my own last days with my father, and it opens a new perspective for me. I’m here and watching you grow, and the best is yet to come. I feel so lucky just to have my feet hit the floor every morning, to wake up with the tasks of motherhood guiding my day, to have a healthy family and a list of mostly mundane worries. One day you will move on to lots of moments I won’t share with you, and I can’t wait to hear your stories unfold. But for now, you are mine to have for a bit longer.
So here’s to more exploring and laughing, more dreaming and doing. And to more special moments, even the little ones. Happy five years, Jude!