Sunday, October 26, 2014

Six Years, Eight Months, and Seventeen Days

Dear Michael,

Somehow I never wrote you a sixth-birthday letter. If you are ever all grown up and reading this blog, please know that it isn't because I thought your sixth birthday wasn't important. I have barely written in this space all year and I didn't write at all in March, which is when you turned six. So what was going on?

For much of this March, I was substitute teaching. The teacher who filled the spot I left at my previous school had a medical issue which required her to be out for several weeks. It was an easy choice for me to help out but it did make our spring a lot crazier than we'd intended. We enjoyed celebrating your birthday, even though I did a poor job of recording it. We had our usual family celebration and you received LOTS of Legos. You also enjoyed inviting a few friends to a bowling party. When we asked about it you listed five friends you wanted to invite without hesitation, so that is exactly what we did.

Tonight we were talking about your sister's upcoming birthday and you couldn't resist adding some thoughts about when you turn seven. You declared you'd like a Christmas-themed birthday party in March. We'll have to see about that one!

So what are you like at six years old (which you will still be for a little over four months)? Sometimes I think you have a split personality. By all accounts you are calm and well-behaved at school and with most other children. With your sister, however, all bets are off. You have a tendency to be combative and physical with her in a way that has been contrary to your personality until this year. Most of this, I think, is fairly normal brother/sister stuff.

You've also been more, "difficult," for Daddy and I in the last four months. I think you really struggled with our lack of routine this summer as our activities varied from week to week and you were also TIRED from all that time at the pool. In addition to missing a routine, I think you also had massive anxiety about beginning first grade. This manifested itself in all sorts of unpleasant ways - most of which involved quite a bit of defiance and temper-tantrumming at home. Daddy and I have worked hard to help you deal with your frustrated and anxious feelings. There aren't a lot of things you have control over as a six-year-old and the youngest in the family. I'll be the first to admit that we don't always respond as the calm and level-headed adults we should be. We are all learning and growing together.

One thing you've always shown us is that you're just going to do things in your own time. So this year, when you spent the first soccer practice crying behind my chair, or the first swim lesson refusing to get in the pool, we've worked very hard to remember to be calm and patient. And you happily completed your soccer season (with the exception of that one quarter when you had to be goalie) and are thoroughly enjoying your swimming lessons. Last year it took you about a month (an agonizing month) to learn the first five sight-words and now you are a reading machine. You take your time, and that's OK.

You love playing the Wii, buildng with Legos, reading Berenstain Bear books (groan), and baseball. The Tigers are still your favorite team and you cried when they were eliminated from the playoffs this fall. You have a very tender heart that still makes it difficult for you to watch movies without being too upset. You are always ready to "go for a hike" and about lost your mind with excitement when we set up our new tent, so I think camping is one adventure you'll really enjoy when we get around to it. You care deeply about your friends and your family (despite all the fighting with your sister). You haven't learned to ride a bike yet, but you practice with enthusiasm whenever you have the chance, so I know that will come in time as well.

You frequently ask me if you can live with us forever, and of course I tell you that, yes, you can live with us as long as you want to. It may take you longer than most, but I'm confident the time will come when you, too, will be ready to be on your own. Until then, I will keep working on my patience, try to model responding calmly to upsetting situations, and continue to love you like crazy. I do love you Michael.