Tuesday was your fourth birthday. Four. I keep saying it to myself, hardly believing it.
You, Bridget and I went downtown to the gelato shop for a birthday treat in the afternoon. You rode your trike the whole way as I pushed the stroller. You did such a great job listening and crossing the busy streets. When the girl at the store found out it was your birthday, she asked how old you are, and you replied, “three.” I said, “are you sure?” as you concentrated hard on your apricot sorbet (since they didn’t have mango). You nodded, and then slowly remembered that you get to say “four” now.
Last week, we threw a birthday party and invited all your friends. We filled water balloons and also had a scavenger hunt. Mostly, you kids just had a blast running around the yard. Dad grilled hotdogs and we had chocolate applesauce cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting topped with dinosaurs for desert. You seemed to think the whole event was pretty amazing. On Saturday, we went down to Great Grandma and Grandpa Beem’s house for a little party, and you got to swim in their big pool. You loved it.
Currently, you are extremely interested in dinosaurs. This started last summer when Grandma Osborne gave you a book about them. And once the PBS show, Dinosaur Train, started airing in the fall, you were pretty much obsessed. I wouldn’t be surprised if you could name over forty types of dinosaurs. You just soak that information up, and you talk about it non-stop. I love how you’ve invented your own descriptive words, like “curbivore,” (even though you know the word “omnivore),” and you often call “quadrupeds” “four-drupeds.” That makes me smile. You still like Thomas the Tank Engine a lot too, and since Christmas, you’ve been really into Legos. You love to build, and you and Dad play Legos together most every night before going to bed.
It’s been a challenging year for you. Learning how to be a big brother has not always been easy, and while you love your sister, it was difficult for you to figure out where you fit in the family after her arrival. That caused a lot of big feelings in you that you didn’t know how to deal with. While you have been learning and making strides all year, it has really been in recent weeks that I have observed a marked change in you with regard to Bridget. You just seem so much more mature and able to handle the frustrations of having a baby sister. I am so proud of you and the patience and kindness you have extended to her. Not only that, but you have been joyfully trying to teach her how to do things and you seem to take real pleasure out of playing silly games with her. I love watching you two play and see the happiness you have in each other. Sometimes when you’re interacting with her, I hear myself in you, good and bad, and it reminds me once again that you are both watching and listening to everything I say and do, and that you are learning how to be, from me.
You are still as particular as ever, and at times, this can cause big frustrations for you. You have been doing a good job of learning how to deal with life when it’s not the way you like it, though there are days when you can fall apart over a hamburger not fitting perfectly in its bun.
Some of the things I enjoy most about you right now include the way you make up songs that just go on and on and the way you love to dance with your sister after dinner. I get a kick out of how you speak in similes – on our walk downtown, you said that Bridget was “singing like a cloud.” You also use terminology you’ve learned watching Thomas the Train. My favorite is when you point out a worker at the grocery store who is bringing the carts in. “Look,” you exclaim, “he’s shunting the carts.” I also like how you enjoy helping me bake. You like to dump the ingredients in, and of course swipe as much batter as possible if I’m making cake or cookies. I love the concentration with which you play. You take it quite seriously and you become very involved in what you are doing. And I love how you pray. Sometimes, like last night, you will interrupt your dad as he prays at dinner to add your own. It warms my heart. I love everything that makes you, you. You are so special and unique.
You are an amazing gift from God, and I love you more than you will ever know.