Once I was seven years old

Dear Tolliver,

Seven years ago the decision to have another baby was fairly easy, less if and more when. Your timing was actually perfect. You arrived the week of Thanksgiving, with legs that came in fat segments like dinner rolls. Despite the fact that you turned a full night's sleep into a particular fable at our house, you filled our hearts and our home with immense joy and we could not have been more happy to have you with us.
We still are.

You grew into a toddler with charitable cheeks and twin bungee ropes of drool dripping from each corner of your mouth, along with lots of words and plenty of solid opinions.
Since then time galloped and your wardrobe game grew and we mostly gracefully crossed a million childhood thresholds. Suddenly you are turning seven. Still with all the words and strong opinions, still with unwavering fashion preferences, and so many other good things.

You are inquisitive and brave, equal parts cotton candy and red meat.
I love when you crank up your small voice, having thought about what you want to say, to add to the conversation.
You are enthusiastic and super fast and so handsome. Your freckles are my very favorite.
You've memorized Jingle Bells on the piano, and are becoming quite the performer.
You are Hank's favorite playmate, turning empty laundry baskets into turtle games or jail cells. You are fierce and soft-shelled, both. You are busting out of boxes and blazing your own trail.
You are super into military history, devouring books about tanks and weapons and battles.
Your handwriting is the best in the house, by far. Your attention to detail, to where the flower vases go and to what time we need to leave and to which pants look nice with which shirt and to whether there's enough milk left for everyone to have cereal, is astounding.

We're learning about boredom together, feeling it and figuring out what to do next.
And self-regulation. Managing emotions can be tough business, but it's important to treat others, and ourselves, with respect.
We're learning about courage, too. Sometimes the shadows cast by the thing we’re afraid of are larger and more frightening than the thing itself.
I'm learning about lots of things with you, actually.
It startles me sometimes, how different we are. I've been thinking about how even the people I love the most can sometimes seem so mysterious. I'm figuring out how to love you all the more across the mystery, across silence and strong words, across quarrels and compromises. Maybe this is the truest love of all, the one unbound by such constraints.
I'm doing my very best to bridge who I am and who you are (quickly) becoming, because I love you so much.

I've been up bright and early with you for seven years now. I'll bake cinnamon rolls tomorrow, at your request, and together we'll watch the sun rise to light the tallest pine candles outside our kitchen window.
And I'll be watching you, hoping your biggest wishes come true this year and forever, Tolliver.



Poppy John said...

You are such a cool kid! Happy Birthday!
I love you,

rht said...

Happy Birthday, Tolliver! Cotton candy and red meat indeed. I love your freckles too -- and so much more of you. Your mom cared very much about what she wore when she was 7; there was a soft violet outfit that I had to wash more than once each week. And she was already writing stories and teaching her little sister... kind of like you and Hank! Love, RoRo