Archive for the ‘Birthday letters’ Category

Elena is 86 Months Old Today!

Posted by julie on Wednesday, 14 October 2015, 23:57

Still at it

       SONY DSC

Dear Elena,

You look so old these days, with your long, long hair and long, lean legs.

You spent your last days as a 6-year-old in New York; actually, you spent nearly four weeks there this summer. Not only did you love it, but my parents and my sister loved it—and you. You were helpful, charming, responsible, playful, and you didn’t want to come home. You swam, climbed, had a pedicure with Aunt Jenny, went to yoga with Gramma Mia, hiked with Grampa Dick, put together puzzles with Uncle John, taught Miss June to swim, picked veggies, and went to horse camp (you and Gramma even found jodhpurs at a 2nd-hand store!). You never once caused a problem for your grandparents; not once did they notice you being stubborn or finicky or unkind. Darling girl.



You have started to recognize wit and to tell jokes. Sometimes those jokes fail, and even that’s funny: Instead of “Dad, can you make me a sandwich?” followed by “Abracadabra, you’re a sandwich,” you said, “Dad, can I have a sandwich?” followed by the punch line that no longer makes sense. Which cracked all of us up.

You’ve recently turned the corner and discovered that the street is lined with books you can read! You now spend road trips going carefully through Highlights magazine, reading all of the stories when previously you only found the hidden pictures. You finally get it, why the rest of us are so enthralled with books. They’re full of stories!


You play soccer like a girl on fire. A few of your teammates have noticeably improved their ball-handling skills and have an intuitive understanding of where they should be on the field in a given situation. What you lack in those areas you make up in sheer speed. The other day, the assistant coach said, “You know, they’re going to have to start watering the field; otherwise, you’re going to set it ablaze.”


Elena, you have been reminded by your new teacher to be kind with your words and actions. When I told her that I hoped that wouldn’t continue, she said, respectfully and calmly, “Oh, I bet it will.” Then I told her that you’d chosen the nickname “Spicy” for yourself that very afternoon. She laughed and nodded. She understands you.

Other kids’ parents say things about you like “assertive,” “go far,” and “knows what she wants.” And they’re right. You are fiery, and sometimes—especially when it comes to sibling relations—that’s challenging. But what more could I ask than a hot-pepper daughter who knows what she wants and laughs while she goes out and grabs it?





9 Things I’ve Learned from Having a 9-Year-Old

Posted by julie on Wednesday, 17 December 2014, 14:02



In lieu of a 9-year birthday letter, which I somehow never go around to, there’s this:

  1. 9-year-olds can win games without me having to “throw” anything (Who am I kidding? My 9-year-old has beaten me at chess for years. And Stratego? I don’t think it’s winnable—at least not by me.)
  2. While my 6-year-old still lags and complains of fatigue when we hike, 9-year-olds can charge! I can already foresee the day when I won’t be able to easily keep up.


  1. 9-year-olds hear and notice everything, and they cleverly try out words they’ve heard, some of them inappropriate, while looking at me to see if it’s okay (it’s not).
  2. 9-year-olds are capable of high-level thinking (mine is diagramming sentences at school right now). When your 9-year-old is tiny, adults sometimes underestimate him because they think he’s younger, then are amazed by the vocabulary and ideas that spring forth from him.
  3. On the other hand, 9-year-olds (my 9-year-old) like to be silly, too. Sometimes they growl and perhaps pretend to be four-legged mammals (and become frustrated with grown-ups when they don’t adhere to this plan).


  1. 9-year-olds are capable of increasingly higher-level empathy. For my 9-year-old, this means that he even realizes the impact his simple chores, like unpacking his lunchbox or clearing the table, have on my life. While he still likes to push his sister’s buttons, he’s just as likely to help her with something she can’t manage by herself—because he sees things from her point of view!
  2. “Fashion” is an evolving concept, and good fashion is different to every eye. The 9-year-old who lives in our house has, over the past year, started considering his clothing choices. Instead of knee-high wool socks with athletic shorts and a button-down shirt, he might wear a shirt with a belt over it—tunic-style—and a purple silk cravat. And maybe a cape, because sometimes we get a little Middle-earth up in here.


  1. 9-year-olds are well on their way to being the people they are trying so hard to become. I can inject some good manners and try to instill some (of my) values, but my 9-year-old definitely thinks for himself (I suppose he always has; he’s just more vociferous about it now).
  2. 9-year-olds are fun! Mine reads interesting books, likes to giggle, gives his own special (disgusting) kisses, and likes to work out beside me in the living room to Fitness Blender videos (wearing only his underwear).

I know that, at some point in the not-too-distant future, he will become old enough that he will start to pull away from me, so I’m going to snuggle with him now, even if he makes fart noises.



Happy Birthday, Elena: You’re 6! (and a month)

Posted by julie on Wednesday, 17 September 2014, 12:40

Elena, Sally Mann-style


Silly serious faces at the ball game


My two favorite little sisters

Dear Elena,

Nearly every morning, you wake me up: “Mom, I’m hungry.” I open my eyes to your smile, sometimes on the pillow next to mine, but more often hovering in the doorway. I prefer those mornings to my early-run mornings when my alarm jars me awake at 5 a.m.

Your little face lost its baby-tooth grin when you lost your first tooth less than a week after your 6th birthday, just a month ago. When I compare photos from your first day of Kindergarten at Edison to your first day of Kindergarten at Waldorf, this year, I notice how much you look like a big kid now: lost tooth, thinner face, longer body. The little kid is gone, but, thankfully, her sparkliness persists.


Waiting for the teeter totter to drop

You entered the Eugene Waldorf School this fall, and your summer birthday means you are in Kindergarten again. Transferring you to the Waldorf school was a hard decision for me; I know you didn’t want to leave your old school, especially your friends. But you are social and fun, and I know you’ll find some new friends (and play soccer with the old friends). You were also really enjoying the academic work that Edison gave you. You were learning to read, add, and subtract. Those pursuits will be put aside for two years for you as you enter the Waldorf world of imagination, cooking, and playing outside. It’s true that I look forward to the day when you will lose yourself in books…

At the Jog-a-thon last May. Elena ran 4.5 miles in an hour. Yes, I was impressed.

At the Jog-a-thon last May. Elena ran 4.5 miles in an hour. Yes, I was impressed.


Mom, do I have fern water on my head?

Although you aren’t reading full books yet, you can still entertain yourself for hours. Sometimes I find you drawing, or creating something with stickers, or setting up an art sale on the street corner, or arranging small items on your floor in ways that make sense only to you. While you love other people’s company, you are also one of the most independent people I know.

If we let you, you would play four sports, sing in a choir, dance, and take gymnastics classes, leaving time only for eating and sleeping. I am not a fan of overscheduling, but that becomes difficult to tame when you have a child who wants to do it all.


West coast mermaid


Blowing out the candles on the lime cousins’ birthday cake that Gramma made

You and Sylvan have started to have a real friendship, wherein you create imaginary worlds, dance, and pretend that you’re a fairy princess marrying a boy in a tutu. When that playtime works well, I am charmed. More often than not, it ends with you whine-screaming, “Sto-o-p!” after some perceived or actual injustice. I won’t miss that whine-scream when you grow out of it; I promise.

You have known how to ride a bicycle for over a year, but you are still struggling with starting and stopping. I’m considering picking up another small bike, so you don’t have far to fall and you’ll feel more comfortable (We gave away your small, training-wheel bike during a garage purge. Sorry!).


Putting together her bro’s Ikea nighstand

You, my dear, like dresses more, perhaps, than anyone I know. I don’t know why you have any trousers at all. My advice to you: keep wearing dresses and being a tough, outdoorsy chick. People will use words like spunky to describe you (in fact, they already do!).

Your Mom



Don’t mess with me, or I’ll shoot you with my bear popper

Happy Birthday, Sylvan: You’re 8 2/3!

Posted by julie on Sunday, 11 May 2014, 21:58

The state of Sylvan at any beach—running in and out of the waves.


You patrolled with me this winter. You’ll probably be a full patroller before I will.


I told you I’d give you a quarter if you went out to swing in your underwear with no shoes. You put on sandals, trousers, and an unsnapped jacket, telling me where I could put my quarter.

Dear Sylvan,

Four and a half months ago, we made a big switch, transferring you from our neighborhood elementary school to the Waldorf School. We really wanted to love our neighborhood public school: it’s full of smart, caring staff; it’s four blocks away; we fit neatly into the community of families there. But you were oh, so unhappy. While I don’t know that you’ll ever love school (I can always hope), you’d gotten to the point that you cried every morning on the way to school. “I hate it. I don’t want to go,” you’d say. I started thinking what you needed was a therapist, that you were eight and depressed. It just broke me. I’d drop you off and cry as I walked home.

Moms can’t always fix their son’s problems—­nor should they always try. I waffled, but we visited the Eugene Waldorf School, where your current teacher gave you an hour-long interview on the Saturday before Christmas, asking you to throw a beanbag with him, stand on one foot, skip count, draw, follow directions, and answer some written math problems, all in a very soft, patient voice. Your Dad and I looked at each other, nodding without nodding.

And now? You’re definitely a happier human. You come home from school muddy and paint-laden. You never complain that you don’t want to go to school. You play a pentatonic flute, write beautiful cards in Spanish, and knit, all as part of your everyday curriculum. There are things you don’t like—eurythmy’s not your favorite, and some students’ behavior surprises you (building a culture of respect can take years; in the meantime, you have classmates that take advantage of that, because, hey, they’re in 2nd grade).


Waldorf mud


Your valentines this year, which you had to make for your classmates at the Waldorf School. Your bookmark valentines were beautiful, and you never once complained about making them (that’s different from years past, let me tell you).

And you went back down a grade because of your summer birthday, which means we get to keep you for an extra year when you’re 18. As difficult as parenting is for me, as excited as I am sometimes to run away into the woods by myself, I already appreciate that extra year.


Cousin reading. Dom looks unimpressed, but I’m not sure he likes Sandra Boynton.


Your first state-wide chess tournament. You finished strongly, and I think you were most excited about the salt water taffy in your trophy.

While you’ve always loved listening to music, especially as you go to sleep, you’ve started to reach that tween obsession with some pop songs. I get it; I’m into some of the same songs, especially “Pompeii” by Bastille and “Let Her Go” by Passenger. While you’re doing other things, you hum “Glad You Came” by The Wanted.

I wish you and Daddy could see eye-to-eye more often. I sometimes feel like a middle child when you two are misunderstanding each other. I understand both of your frustrations, and I just want you both to sit with me and gaze into each other’s eyes until you can understand each other. You both just desire respect from the other, or that’s what it looks like from the outside. Dad wants you to acknowledge him, to listen, and to follow through. You want him to understand that not all sibling altercations are your fault and that sometimes you need more than a cursory instruction before you’re ready to move on. In thirty years, you’ll both belly up to the bar, sharing a (root) beer while you refer to dear old Mom as a hopeless hippie.

I love you and your soft, soft cheeks,


I just thanked my lucky stars that when snow grounded us in Chicago overnight, you two were my travel companions. You took it like pros, actually getting excited about the mile and a half that we (I) had to walk to make it to the cots from which we were unceremoniously roused at 3:45 a.m.


Happy Birthday, Elena! You’re 5 1/2 (okay, and nearly a month; I’m a mom)

Posted by julie on Friday, 7 March 2014, 12:09

SONY DSC        elena_yoda

Dear Elena,

Sometimes I look at you and I can’t believe you were a glimmer in our eyes six years ago (well, you were a glimmer and a tiny peanut at that point). You are so completely breath-taking and self-possessed, it’s hard to believe you didn’t spring fully-formed and perfect from inside a cabbage leaf.





You learned to ride a bike last August, and you learned to START a bike on Saturday. Those first few pedals are always the hardest.

You are fearless. You should retain that; it will come in handy later. We had to remind you of that bravery when we recently tried downhill skiing again–rather, you had to remind yourself. Once that confidence returned, you simply pointed your skis down the hill and said, “Okay, where do you want me to turn?” You were a bit terrifying to watch, but you were nearly always in control. Then you went up on the lift by yourself! Okay, you don’t have to be THAT big.

You have the world’s most charming little voice. Sometimes I wish you knew how to turn it off, but I love its word-choice mistakes as well as its mispronunciations and impediments.



You are learning to read. Learning to read seems like a miracle to me. Learning a new language does, too. Our brains pliably wrap around the new information, prodding it like a curious octopus until–pop!–the brain and the information become one. To prepare for reading, you learned all of your letters last fall in Kindergarten. While you knew some of them already, you hadn’t absorbed them like your brother did when he started to read. You know what sounds most letters make, and now you can sound out many words and sight-read some, too. You’ve read books to me! If there are words you don’t know, you attempt them based on context, sometimes with funny results that collapse us into giggles. It’s such a pleasure to watch you figure out reading. Your process is different from what Sylvan’s looked like. You’re more of an experimenter.



While you have always wielded a pencil with grace and care, you’ve started trying cursive, because that’s what your brother’s doing. Second child: “I will not be left behind!”

I don’t love your stubbornness, your ability to look me in the eye as you’re jumping on the couch. You are fast to frustrate and fast to cool down. Your brother and I probably taught you to blow up, and now you’re a master. And we’re both calmer. I apologize. We’ll continue to hug you and try to understand your feelings.

I love you, Miss E.



Girls hikin’!


Happy Birthday, Sylvan! You’re 8!

Posted by julie on Tuesday, 17 September 2013, 19:04

Sylvan just after turning 7, a year ago

Sylvan conducting our singing of “Happy Birthday” when we celebrated cousin birthdays a few weeks ago

Dear Sylvan,

As I was looking at photos of you from a year ago, I expected to see not much difference from last year to this, to see a boy who was just a little smaller, a little rounder then. That’s true, but those changes make a big difference. You look decidedly different now—longer, leaner, toothier. A third grader, more than halfway through elementary school.

Your Dad and I filled out a questionnaire for your new 3rd grade teacher, Janine, whose first question for us was what you like and enjoy. We wrote something to the effect of: reading books, dressing up in costumes, chess. I looked at your Dad and said, “He’s going to play D&D when he’s a teenager, huh?” Well, yes, except it won’t be D&D but the fantasy game of the age for black-clad teenagers who wear trench coats.

Some people’s cats like to play in boxes…

One of your absolute favorite things right now is laser tag. Loud music, black lights, guns with no consequences. I can definitely understand the appeal. Your birthday party was a laser tag party, and consequently we have only a few photos of the party, all from cell phones. Crazy Voodoo Doughnut laser tag party!

Is that my shirt?

Elena’s first day of Kindergarten, Sylvan’s second day of 3rd grade

You’re not only taller with a rock-solid little muscular body right now. Your attitude’s changing, too. You’re much more willing to have your photo taken, for instance. That might seem simple, but, in the past, sometimes the camera would instigate a foul mood, like so many other things in your life. You still sometimes make silly faces at the camera, but that just shows your personality. You rarely stare sullenly at the camera anymore, willing it away. You rarely stare sullenly at anyone anymore. You’re still not Little Mr. Sunshine, but your subtle gentle humor is more likely to emerge to defuse stressful situations than your whiney little boy voice.

That change of attitude has permeated your actions. For instance, when we were back in Dover for a week at the end of August, I asked you and Elena if you’d like to hike up to the Stone Church one afternoon. Elena—usually up for anything—refrained, but you said, “Sure.” You explored the stream, checked out the church, and climbed up to a ledge just outside the church’s entrance. When I stopped and talked to loquacious gentleman, you very politely came up to me to remind me you were there, then went out to assemble munitions depots, and repeated that a few times as he talked to me. He and his wife were very impressed with your patience and ability to entertain yourself.

On the cliffs near the Stone Church

He can walk on water, folks

You and your closest friends—Cole, Robbie—enjoy outdoor explorations. I’m happy for their influence on you. While I enjoy living in a place where we can walk to school and to the store, I wish you could explore outside every day, that we lived in a spot where you could. It tears at me, knowing that you won’t have that everyday connection with the outdoor world.

That brings me to my biggest concern about you right now: that you don’t like school. You didn’t even give it a chance this year, before you wept before the first day and said you didn’t want to go. I wish I knew what was behind this for you. Is it social anxiety, true boredom, a lack of desire to do hard work, a real belief that you can’t do the work?

“Why can’t you homeschool me?” you asked. Because I think the social aspect of school is important for you, and because you wouldn’t do the work for me. Oh, and because I’d go insane. Don’t forget that one. And sometimes it kills me. I could take you out and let you explore outside. We could develop much more emergent curriculum, based on your desires and interests. We would both undoubtedly learn a lot. I want you to love school; would you, if you were homeschooled? Who knows? I do know that I’m going to make it a priority to help you solve your problems around this issue yourself.

And I do know that I love you.


Waldo Lake paddleboarding

Happy Birthday, Elena! You’re 5!

Posted by julie on Tuesday, 20 August 2013, 11:20

This is you, standing in Fish Lake (there’s water there in the winter) after you’d just turned 4 last year.

This is you this summer, blowing away the competition in the 200m.

Dear Elena,

You’re starting Kindergarten in less than a month! You are excited, and so am I. You are a bundle of social energy, and I think you’re going to really love being in school. It’s fascinating and fun to parent two very different children and observe how you both interact with the world. When Sylvan entered school, a year older than you, he was definitely reticent and nervous, and he was also already reading, although he wouldn’t admit that (he read signs to us, but he refused to read books). You are enthusiastic and ready to go; you probably know most of your letters, but we haven’t tested that; and I couldn’t imagine holding you back to prepare for another year, despite limited but available empirical evidence that students older within their peer group outperform the youngest students. I have no fear that you’ll succeed, Elena, really at whatever you put your mind to.

On the Merced River.

Half Dome from the other side and some wind-blown kids.

You are a master of Vision and Action, one of NOLS’s seven leadership principles. When something needs to get done, you simply buckle down and do it. If it’s time to put on sunscreen, you find the sunscreen and have it on before I can pack my pool bag. If you want to create art, you walk in and cut and paint and draw and paste until it’s time for a snack; then you get yourself a carrot. Getting things done is a crucial and healthy trait, a characteristic that will serve you well as a student, as a grown-up, as a partner, and simply as a successful human. I could probably serve you better by making art supplies more available to you­—­­or cleaning supplies, for that matter. The house would sparkle if I just stepped back and let you at it. As a student, I think you would thrive in a Montessori setting. I hope Edison’s Kindergarten is hands-on enough for your sensibilities.

The other thing I hope is that this hitting phase subsides as you gain more and more coping skills. You get frustrated with your brother—as any human being would when confronted with big sibling cruelty (sorry, Jenn)—and you just haul off and whack him. You went through a phase like that a year ago in pre-school, and then it passed as your communication skills improved. Please don’t let your Kindergarten teacher call us because you’re beating up your friends.

Can’t have too many plungers on this blog.

You’re changing your child-logic verb tenses to grammatically-correct ones these days, inserting “went” where “goed” used to sit, for instance.

Right now, you’re motivated by being a “big girl.” I try not to utilize that too much, because it’s nice to have a little girl; but I don’t mind telling you that 5-year-olds can use Hideaway Bakery’s bathroom alone.

I love this photo. Two of these kids will be in Kindergarten next year. Two of these kids love to read and have water fights with each other.

Yesterday, four days after you turned 5, you went down the big blue slide at Amazon Pool by yourself, without the lifeguard catching you at the bottom! After your first ride down, when the lifeguard caught you and then helped you swim to the side, I saw the disappointment in your eyes. “Go back!” I suggested, “Tell them you don’t need a catcher.” Big girl, you just zoomed out into the water, put your head down, and swam like a fish to the side. “The current helped me,” you said.

I love you, Big Little Girl.


Fun at your birthday party.

I don’t tell you very often that you’re beautiful, because I want you to know that being generous and clever and funny are more important; but, Elena, you are lovely.

“This … is it.” or: A post-mid-life birthday present for Dad

Posted by jonesey on Wednesday, 24 April 2013, 17:31

This is how I remember it, anyway.

Once upon a time, when my father was chronologically younger than I am now (but more mature than I am now, since he inflicted offspring, a mortgage, and a lawnmower on himself at a much younger age), he decided to check the mid-life crisis box.

Sports car? No, he had already owned a 1972 BMW 2002 (named Fritz, of course), picked up from the factory in Germany. No mere sports car was going to top that.

Trophy wife? He already had one of those, and still does.

No, my dad has always been a rational, reasonable, sensible person, even in a crisis. He went out and got one of these:

Dad has always liked a little go in his cars, so when it was station wagon time (gotta have something that can hold two kids and a bunch of trash and recycling on the way to the town dump, after all), he bought a brand new 1986 Volvo 740 Turbo wagon. That thing could GO, and it didn’t complain at all when you really pushed it. I once took it up to 90 (sorry, Dad) just for kicks while merging onto the empty D.C. Beltway late one night. I think the RPMs cracked 3500 when I did that, but they might not have. The car sure didn’t mind one bit.

I looked for the ad above for years. I finally found it a few months ago. In the meantime, I found it that Ferrari really did make a station wagon. And it was ugly. Take a look:

The last link above has the best explanation of the hideously not-as-atractive-as-it-should-be Ferrari station wagons that were built for a couple of Really Rich People. They look like a toned-down Ferrari front end mixed with a Subaru back end, resulting in an early-1990s Saturn or Honda wagon ambiance. Definitely not a Ferrari look. I’m sure they drive nicely, but blech.

And here’s a reward for those of you who read all the way to the end. Well done.

Celebrating 30 Years of the Volvo Turbo 1981 – 2011

Happy birthday, DYD.

Happy Birthday, Elena: 4 2/3!

Posted by julie on Tuesday, 16 April 2013, 22:52

Dear Elena,

My little spitfire. I definitely wonder how Kindergarten will treat you, my little free-spirited wood sprite. You’re observant and a quick learner, and you love to be a good role model. Those qualities will treat you well as you enter school. You’re also a chatterbox and stubborn as that gluey residue left over from masking tape that’s been through the dishwasher. Kindergarten will be tough when you’re asked to zip your adorable lips.

It’s birthday party season, and at a party this past weekend, I was chatting with a mom about schools, because that’s all we can discuss when our babies are turning 5 and we want what’s best for them. I told this mom that you’d recently said you’d draw and paint all day, if given the opportunity. She said, “Yes, until college, and then she has to major in something that will make money.”

My expression must have illustrated my discomfort. Elena, you can go to college if you want. And, if you choose to go, you can major in art if you want. Or dance. Or theater. Or photography. Or religion. Or physics. Or chemistry. Or astronomy. But this you’ll never hear from me: “Consider pre-med. Doctors make more money than artists.” First of all, life’s too short to do something you think will make you money rather than something that will make you happy. Secondly, some artists actually make more money than doctors. And thirdly, it’s your life. You have this fantastic opportunity to make your own decisions. You will realize that some of them turn out to be ones you wouldn’t make again.

One of the biggest gifts my parents gave me was complete support. I was never made to feel like I wasn’t making the right decisions; they were my decisions, and I knew I was loved and that my family had my back. I should have asked for more advice, though. I still should. Like me, you are independent to a fault. You don’t have to take other people’s advice, but sometimes it’s good to hear it.

The first of two years of $5 annual ski passes at Willamette Pass. It’s good to be 4!

Right now, you love: pink, purple (you say it’s your favorite now), glitter, anything shiny (maybe you’re a magpie), playing with letters, drawing, collecting tiny objects (again, magpie), swinging, helping, running, dance class, saving food for later (sometimes later doesn’t come), cheek kisses, and amazing us with how big you are.

While we were sorting socks the other day, you said, “Yuck, this sock smells like rice. Italian rice.” Better get over that one, lady, because risotto’s delicioso!

I love you,

Pale not only because we’re Oregonians. Jumping waves with a fever. Yeah, I’m a good parent.

Wait, what lava? We’re making silly faces.


Happy Birthday, Sylvan: 7 7/12!

Posted by julie on Saturday, 13 April 2013, 20:25

Sylvan hanging in Hawai’i on a great family beach, Beach 69 in Kohala, on the Big Island.

Dear Sylvan,

You’re 91 months old! I remember figuring out when I would be 100 months old. If you don’t bring it up first, I’ll tell you next January. You’ll ask for cinnamon rolls to celebrate, because, hey, it’s an excuse to have sugar!

Last spring, at just about this time, we met with your Kindergarten teacher, Miss Polly, who suggested that you be tested for skipping a grade. Even though you were old for your grade, we hadn’t considered this. As the evidence mounted—who you played with on the playground, your math scores, your September birthday, your reading skills—it just made sense. So, with some consideration, we decided, along with your teacher, that you should enter 2nd grade this year. It turned out to be a very good choice for you. The academics are a good fit for you, and you have a gentle, calm teacher, Miss Laura, who’s helped you become a mellower, calmer human being.

Sylvan experiencing coconut anxiety (another example of maturity; he wouldn’t have put up with my photo shenanigans a year ago).

Shave ice rocks the house, even if it’s only 68 degrees F outside.

You often jump into play in the preschool classroom when we pick up Miss Elena, who is always finishing up her snack (because she’s a good eater and a good talker). The other day, while you were helping to put away some train tracks, you started to take one from a little boy, thinking he was handing it to you because you were closer to the bin. He yowled, and you just stopped, not even responding to his outburst, and continued putting other tracks and blocks away.

You’ve reached a point in your evolution as a human that, when you are a bit wronged, you brush it off. I especially appreciate this in your interactions with your sister. When you step back and don’t escalate a tense situation, I want to hug you (but if I did, you’d make a noise like this: whiny “ehhhhr,” and pull away). In fact, I want to hug you a lot, but that’s not your preferred intimate gesture; you prefer a back-scratch.

Run away!

You love: laser tag, chess, Stratego, facts, pretending to be different Harry Potter characters/rainforest animals /Bearbarians warriors, playing in the waves, downhill skiing.

You are good at: being yourself without being at all concerned about what others think, spelling, math, reading long and complicated books (You just finished The Hobbit by yourself on the way back from Hawai’i; I still haven’t read it because it’s so long and complicated.), and chess (You’re playing in tournaments, and your goal for the last one was to gain a higher point value—based on wins, losses, and draws—than your last tourney. You did it!).

You are nervous about: team sports (but you play football with the boys every day at lunch), some other athletic endeavors where you feel your peers are bigger and better, and I don’t know what else. I know you have concerns and anxieties that I don’t hear about. As you slowly climb toward middle school, you will share with me less and less. I think this is why I need to stop, slow down, and just listen to you. We need to chat about nothing that matters so that we can chat about what does matter when you want to share it.

I love you,

Update 15 April: You were very fun to watch in your soccer game yesterday. You went directly to the ball and were scrappy. If the ball was anywhere near your section of the field, that ball touched your foot. You had some great steals yesterday, and you smiled the entire time. It was very joyful.

And the two lasting verbal kid mis-speaks that I still love to hear you say are “pacific” for “specific” and “care-UC-ter” for “character.”