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Dear Simon,

You turned four yesterday, and I could not be happier for you. I mean it! This year I am not going to introduce any moist eyes or hand wringing into the equation. Your birthday will include little nostalgia, few observations about the speeding up of time, and no regrets about how far you are from being a baby. It’s all about the excitement of the moment—I promise.

This mood is, of course, completely out of character for me. The reason for my newfound equanimity is that you have seemed four for a few months now. It’s like your birthday was back in August, and the celebrations of yesterday and today a mere formality.

What’s changed? Well, pretty much everything.

You are four because you are completely potty trained.

You are four because whenever I try to do the things I used to always do for you, you ask to help or holler “No mommy! I’ll do it myself!”

You are four because you not only get yourself to class on your own two days a week, but actually prefer that to the days I escort you to your room.

You are four because instead of watching your friends play from the sidelines, you have joined the scrum and love going crazy with Baron, Braylon, and sometimes Jillian or Lily on the playground.

You are four because you ask really hard questions like, “Where did Percy’s body go” when I try to get away with vague explanations like “He’s gone.”

You are four because you can accept and offer an apology with grace and little prodding, respectively.

You are four because you hate being lumped with babies but can accept being in the big kid/mentor role.

Sometime this summer, a switch flipped, and you cast aside the remaining vestiges of toddlerdom. You discovered rough-and-tumble play, began to initiate friendships at the park, got your superhero on, became a horrible back-seat driver, and traded in adorable wooden cars for hot wheels—and Race Cup and Top Gear magazines. You outgrew your car seat. We got rid of your bed rail. You remembered to take your shoes off before getting on the couch. I culled the herd of stuffed animals on your bed, and you didn’t notice. You still like me to rub your face and back before you fall asleep, but you reciprocate and rub my back and face, too.

Your dad and I can go for walks with you—real walks of a mile or two—and only end up carrying you if we begin foolishly late in the day. Your nap has gotten shorter, and you don’t always take it. You can find your own train videos on You Tube, start them, and maximize the screen size. You have invented toys in your own mind (remote control rocket ships). You can (mostly) dress and undress yourself. You know your alphabet. You can write your name with help. You can count to 20 or so and name your colors in Spanish. You know the letters on a dreidel.

You know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. You tell me things about honey, dinosaurs, and the like that you have learned at school and that I didn’t know or can no longer remember. This year, you decided to attempt the steep slides at the park alone, mastered the trike, and began to notice, emulate, and adore the men in your life.

All of these things are new, and I’m not the only one seeing them. Your grandparents have noticed this sudden leap in ability and maturity. Your teachers sing your praises. And your old teachers and Ms. Shary, the school director, regularly look at you, look at me, smile, and marvel at how far you have come. I’ve heard the word “blossom” a lot these past few months.

Thankfully, though, none of these changes permeates your core. Underneath all this independence and exuberance, you are still you: sweet (how often do I hear or use that to describe you?), gentle, a bit hesitant to try new things, a lover of books and music, mesmerized by wheels and engines, and a kid who runs with joyous abandon. The only thing new is that I now have to run to keep up with you!

In the face of this dramatic increase in your abilities, confidence, and independence, how could I possibly be wistful and sad? I don’t have the heart to begrudge you your month-long enthusiasm about turning four. You are clearly thrilled, and I’m thrilled with and for you.

You’ve taken me on a joyous, four-year adventure, and I trust you to make the fifth equally magical. I can’t wait to see what the upcoming year has in store for us.

Happy birthday, sweetheart. And oh! The other thing that hasn’t changed a bit? Your daddy and I love you more than either of us has the words for.

3 Responses to “Four”

  1. bethnbobinnc says:

    I love these letters to Simon, Jessica. I know they will be something that you can both look back on and enjoy down the road. Happy Birthday to Simon! Hugs from the Rossis!

  2. Amanda says:

    That made me a little verklempt! Happy birthday, Simon!

  3. blg says:

    Yeah, verklempt, me, too.

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