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With Baron at Kids’ Party on the 15th

Dear Simon,

This is the year that sealed it for me and your Dad: We are some of the luckiest parents in the world. Not because you are perfect—no one is—but because, Baby Kitten aside, you are the perfect kid for us.

I’m sure if I had sat down and described my ideal child: curious, smart, dreamy, funny, sweet, gentle, affectionate, social, I would have ended up describing you. Then you threw in some bonus items: a love of maps to match your Dad’s, a love of music that matches your Dad’s but delights me as well, abundant qualities of empathy that help me understand my own childhood better, an immediate affinity for Tolkien that simultaneously amuses and concerns me, and a love for all things vehicular and sporty.

Those last two bits are all your own and have opened previously closed doors to us. Do you think your Daddy knew anything about Nascar before you started asking? Or watched a baseball game on TV? Do you think I ever attempted to pitch correctly? Or drove a go-cart? Or could recognize more than two or three makes of cars? No, no, no, no, and no. Then again, your daddy is thrilled beyond words to have a couch buddy for English Premier League football and Boston Celtics games.

If you are starting to notice how much more you’re hearing about your Daddy this year, well, there’s a reason for it. This is the year that gender identification was cemented. Girls were good friends on play-dates, but at school you only play with boys, a situation you have explained to me quite clearly: “I’m a boy, so boys are good for me to play with.” Go-cart riding with Mommy was fun, but improved in your imagination by substituting me with Uncle Dan and Daddy. You will still pick out pink paint, a pink cookie, and pink mums for the porch, but you never ask for pink shoes or clothing anymore.

All this Daddy-ness aside, I still see plenty of glimpses of me in you. Like when you ask for mango or green tea flavored frozen yogurt. Or when you go to the library with your Bubbie and come back with a stack of books, half of which have Japanese illustrators. Or the smile on your face the first time you tried a real ballroom dance. Or the way you cackle at the Bugs Bunny Roadrunner Show. Your Daddy was more of a Daffy fan. And no, I don’t get that, either.

Then there are the areas where your interests and ours perfectly harmonize. Take the solar system. You dig it. So your Daddy has shown you videos of Mars Rovers and taught you about helium and hydrogen gasses, and I spent the better part of two days painting Styrofoam balls to make you the (freakishly accurate) solar-system Derby hat you wanted for this year’s school parade. Or the Beatles: Sure, your dad is the one who can play the songs and teach you John’s harmonica part on “I Should Have Known Better”, but we both sing with you and I’m the one who took you poster shopping and scrounged the Internet for hours looking for the just-right Beatles tee-shirt. Do you think I did this solely for your sake?

I’m sure there are dozens more instances like this. And after every odd-but-endearing act or utterance, your dad and I exchange sidelong glances that silently communicate “How did we get so lucky?” In fact, on the vast majority of nights, after I lay down with you, kiss you goodnight, and tuck you in bed, I close your door behind me, walk across the hall into your dad’s office, and wait for him to say what I’m thinking:

“Sweetest little boy in the world.”

And you are. Still. Not quite as hesitant as you used to be. Better able to make new friends on the playground when you run into them. In the thrall of boys who are older and/or more rambunctious than you. But still achingly sweet. This is not just a mother’s wishful thinking. I hear it from your school director, your teachers, and other parents. At five, you don’t cry as much as you used to, but the sight of one of your good friends hurt or in tears is enough to bring on the waterworks, which in turn melts my heart.

In last year’s birthday letter, I promised to not to strike too elegiac a tone. We had wrapped a great year, and I sensed that the next would only be better. It was, and I feel much the same again. In the past year, you have happily climbed, jumped, run, biked, and floated. You have learned to write your name without help, picked up some Spanish, and begun to mostly dress yourself. You can give directions to our house, name all the roads we travel on, and help me find the car when I can’t remember where I’ve parked it.

Every day you get a little more independent, a little smarter, a little more daring, and quite a bit taller. On your absolute worst days, which come rarely, you still provide at least a few tender or funny moments that make me happy to be your mom. On most days, you provide multiple occasions that make me stop, ponder my good fortune, and feel immense gratitude.

You are my dear son, the best thing I’ve ever done, and the most fulfilling job I’ve ever had. Happy fifth birthday, Simon. And here’s to many, many, many more.

3 Responses to “Five”

  1. Amanda says:

    Lovely. What a wonderful legacy to leave for your son.

  2. christine says:

    Beautiful letter, Jessica.

  3. blg says:


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