A spring snowstorm is blowing outside for your eighth birthday. It’s a little disheartening, given that your big gift is a new bicycle, but in typical fashion you’re just cheerfully rolling with it. We can always just play a board game or something inside, you say, one of your many Lego encyclopedias open in your lap.
This past year you’ve really come into your own. You’ve stepped out of Harry’s shadow to really be your own person, and it’s been so fun to watch. You’ve insisted on having a mohawk. You’ve decided not to play baseball this summer, instead opting for, of all things, violin lessons (and as I suspected, you have inherited the musical gifts my grandmother’s family was known for).
You have lots of friends, and each of them calls you their “best” friend; that tells me you are very good at making people feel special and important. You make others feel good just by being around you, and that is a rare gift.
You read constantly. When you’re in the living room, you’re never without a book in your hand. You retain everything you read, and the refrain I read it in a book somewhere! is your go-to response when someone asks you where you heard a particular fact or bit of knowledge.
After years of begging for a “small pet” of your own – you were thinking hamster or guinea pig – we compromised on three zebra fish. Frank, Mary Ann, and Sally live in a small aquarium on your dresser and you care for them very responsibly. I rarely have to remind you to feed them, and you often build Lego constructions to put near the tank so they have something different to look at.
You’ve been taking more charge of our dog, too. He’s very big – he outweighs you by a good thirty pounds – but you are feeling more confident in your ability to manage him. We took him for a walk one afternoon and you said I think I’m mature enough to hold his leash now, mom and guess what? You were.
You want to be an astrophysicist when you grow up. Specifically, a cross between Bob MacDonald and Neil DeGrasse Tyson. You like the idea of making your living explaining things to people. Every Saturday on our way home from your weekly art class, Quirks & Quarks is on CBC Radio, and you insist on listening. This past summer we vacationed in Toronto and Ottawa, and one of your favourite stops was the national aviation museum. The sections on space travel thrilled you to the core.
You have a very even-keeled personality. You love video games, board games, tabletop games, all kinds of games – and you rarely get upset if things don’t go your way. If you fall, you get back up. If you don’t catch the ball, you try again. You’ve taught yourself to climb reallllly high up the tree in our front yard. In just three short years you’ve gone from being terrified to get your face wet to heading into Swim Kids 4. You gamely went on the school skating trip even though you can’t skate. You always, always get back up again, no matter what. You don’t seem burdened by self-doubt, and you take risks, but not chances. I’ve never seen you try something dangerous, but you definitely push yourself to expand your comfort zone.
You are starting to show an interest in learning to cook. You’ve developed a more adventurous palate this year, too. You still won’t eat mushrooms – and I’m beginning to suspect you never will – but you love broccoli, spicy foods, cabbage & bean soup, and calamari. You’ve got a real sweet tooth, and for your birthday cake requested chocolate, with chocolate frosting, and Smarties all over it. And I want to put on the Smarties.
You sleep with a pink fuzzy blanket on your feet every night, under the sheet. You call the blanket “Stinky Pinky” and insist that you can’t drift off without the softness and extra weight.
You hate cleaning your room – what kid doesn’t, I suppose – although you love to see the finished job. You just get distracted, and most times I’ll send you off to clean it up only to find you an hour later, nothing actually done, but you putting the finishing touches on some new Lego design you’ve come up with. You always look slightly shame-faced when you’re caught, too.
You think farts are funny, but you love a good snuggle. You like to dress up in your fancy clothes, often wearing a bow tie to school, but I have to watch you like a hawk to make sure you brush your teeth properly. You’re a mass of contradictions but my easiest kid to please.
You are a bright ray of sunshine in our every day, and we love you so very much.