For months now, we’ve been talking about the day you turn 4. We’ve been planning and discussing every detail of your birthday party — who to invite, what color balloons to buy, where to put up the banner. You and Dad would look at the calendar and count the sleeps until the party and the actual day — today, in fact — and it’s just that we’ve all been SO EXCITED.
So tell me, dear son of mine, why you woke up on your birthday so stinking cranky about the whole thing? Are my math skills really that terrible and you’re actually 14, not 4? Perhaps we overloaded you all weekend with just a bit too much celebrating, and now that your birthday is really here, you’re kind of over it. I get that. Sometimes the anticipation of something as exciting as turning 4 is better than the actual event.
Vehement denial aside, today you are finally 4. Every parent says this, but it’s just so hard to believe how big you are, how smart you are, how amazing you are. This past year has seen you transform from a still-pudgy toddler-child into a full-fledged kid, with very specific ideas and opinions. You don’t just like trucks — you like monster trucks with big chunky tires, Rescue Bots and shiny Hot Wheels cars. You don’t want to listen to just any music — you prefer rock ‘n roll, and more specifically, fast, drum-laden rock ‘n roll, like The Black Keys or The White Stripes. (The verdict is still out on Led Zeppelin and The Beatles — I don’t think I fully appreciated the classics until I was about 14, so perhaps my math skills aren’t THAT bad after all.)
Your mind is far more analytical than mine, as you often ponder how something works, where it comes from, or what it’s made of. I do believe you got this trait from your dad, and it’s fun to watch the two of you discuss the hot water pipes or the heater ducts at great length. You’re a pretty tactile kid, too, as I recently watched you bend Play-Doh into the shapes of the alphabet, something you refuse to even try with a pencil and paper.
Even though you’d rather spend hours with your hands digging in the dirt or tinkering with tools than coloring or crafting, you do have a very sensitive side, as evidenced by your love for your floppy stuffed elephant aptly named Ellie. I’m not sure when you started sleeping with Ellie every night, perhaps it was when we moved into the new house and you needed some extra comfort, but she’s always under the crook of your arm each morning when you pad down the stairs and into our room for a snuggle.
Last night I tucked you and Ellie in next to your two new Rescue Bots, which was an interesting juxtaposition, but maybe it’s actually quite symbolic? One the one hand, you’re like this BIG kid, kind of rough and tumble on the outside, but on the other hand, you’re still a bit of a baby on the inside, too, occasionally curling up with me under a blanket. We’ve been testing your maturity the last couple of months, too, letting you watch movies both your dad and I loved as kids, like E.T. and The Goonies, both of which you seemed to enjoy quite a bit. Randomly, we turned on Jumanji the other day, and it got to a part where there was a giant, Seymour-like plant trying to swallow up the kids, and you got so scared, you let out this authentic scream of sheer terror, one we’d never heard from you before. Uh, oops! As your dad joked, guess we won’t be letting you watch Little Shop of Horrors any time soon.
As you turn 4, I think what I love the most about you is how gregarious and charming you can be. I sometimes worry you’re a bit of a chatterbox, but at your birthday party yesterday (and at other recent events like our friends Terrell and Andrew’s wedding), I watched as you talked to adults in a very mature way, and to your friends, too, making sure everyone was having a good time, taking advantage of all the party’s offerings. You’re a consummate host, often greeting guests at the door with contagious enthusiasm. You’re also gracious and kind, quick to slap a high-five or tuck in for a bear hug from just about anybody you’ve known for even the shortest amount of time.
A quick perusal of your previous birthday letters (one, two, three) reminded me that I pretty much came to the same conclusions then, too, so if history is any indication of the future, I think it’s safe to say that 4 is going to be even more awesome than 3, which was more awesome than 2, and so on. Four may present some interesting challenges, too, what with the addition of a sibling in a couple more months, but I’m wildly optimistic that you are going to be a terrific big brother.
Happy Birthday, Ro. Your Dad and I just love you so, so much.