Dear 4-year-old Owen,
As I type that I am picturing you as a newborn, or a 9-month-old laughable little monkey. I know it's typical of moms to say on birthdays, but I really can't believe four years have gone by.
Four feels like a different thing, another territory of parenting that we are entering. I feel like now you're really a Big Kid. I know you're still young, you suck your thumb (yes, something I'm a bit curious about how we will deal with in the coming years before school starts, but also still sentimental about seeing, reminding me you're still little).
You're learning so much. You tell me things all the time that I had no idea you were even learning. Last night you saw the picture of the man who wrote the book we were reading, and asked me, "Mom, is that the author?" Preschool is your favorite thing. You love field trips and library trips, all of your friends, and distributing Valentine cards.
I have to admit when we took you to preschool for the first time I sobbed so bad I had to rush out the door and let dad finish saying goodbye to you before you saw me cry. It was so hard leaving you there. The biggest reason I was upset was I no longer knew or had control. It wasn't familiar to me. Of course dropping you off to your first babysitter at 3 months old wasn't familiar either, but for some reason that was easier for me, all you did was sleep and eat at that time. Now, you are easily swayed and you follow what others do.
This is what is scary about reaching this new phase of your life, how quickly you are developing. You're going more and more into the world, and the world is not perfect like I wish I could make it be for you. I worry that you won't listen to me, that your friends will teach you things. And of course that's normal, you already come home lately calling people a "poo poo head" when you're mad, something I've heard from peers.
It's normal, I of all people should know this, I work in a school. Maybe that's what is scary to me. We're reaching that point of school. School is a great thing, and I know you'll be ready for it when it comes, yet it is an open door to the great big world out there, where I want to keep my baby away from. I want to keep you home with me forever. And still, I don't. I want you out there exploring. It's in your nature anyway.
I do think it's super cool that you can write your name now. That will come in handy for sure.
The last week I've been extra snuggly toward you, I admit. Reminiscing about you as a baby. When Dad and I looked at your baby pictures the other night we were shocked, we had no idea you were that little once, feels like so long ago.
You've pushed me away a couple of times, "MOM! You're squishing me! Mom, you already gave me a hug!" Yes, that crushed me. And it made me laugh, rolling my eyes, realizing, yup, here we go, he's a BOY. Not my baby. Not my toddler. Not my little one saying things we couldn't understand. A boy. A little man with ideas as big as your energy and creativity can span.
And yet, simultaneously, I'm SO excited about this coming year. I cannot wait to sign you up for swimming lessons. You ask me about basketball a lot, when you can play, where you will have games. You ask so many questions. Watching people you ask if they are happy or sad, you are in tune with emotions. I'm grateful.
Your laughter... well, it's the very best thing I've ever heard in this world.
You're independent. You go potty by yourself these days, a huge thing. You are so independent. You sit at the table without a booster seat now. You get dressed by yourself. Every morning when I go up to help you, your bed is made, you have a huge grin on your face, asking me, "What are we going to do today, Mama?"
I love your spirit, passion for life, and energy for doing everything and anything all day long. It's the thing I know you got from your Mama. I adore you, little man.
We sat recently at a basketball game. You were SO focused! Asking me a thousand questions... "Who's that guy with the whistle making them stop? Do I have a big basketball like that at home? Can I get black sneakers like that kid has? Why did he push him down? Does he get time out for pushing him? Why aren't the girls playing basketball right now?" It was so sweet. I stared at the parents in the stands and realized that's me, in a matter of a handful of years. I stared at the kids on the bench and those picked to play first quarter, and wondered, will that be you? Will you be on the bench, not great at sports, or will you be starting lineup shooting the winning basket? I'm so curious about your future now that you're heading straight for it.
It makes me sad thinking of you growing in this way.. riding busses without seat belts to away games... roaming the hallways ... having a locker... and yet, I can't wait to see what life has in store for us with your adventures in it. I'm not sure why, but turning 4 is making me realize these things are NOT so far away in our future.
Keep going, Owen. Our "Growin' Owen," what we've called you since you were born. You keep surprising us, making us laugh, and moving us toward this great big, exciting world out there. We love you more than ever now. I'll get used to you being a big kid. I will.
So, yes, now that you're four, people are saying "oh boy, one more year till you start thinking about Kindergarten."
I'm going to block them out for a year or so... "We have time, baby, we have time," that's what I'll keep saying. Because it's true.
We have time to teach you to say "because" instead of "that why," like, "I did this that why I wanted to." We have time to do so many things.
You're always up for some fun with Mom...
15-minute 4-year-old photo shoot in the freezing cold and snow? Great!
Happy four, big man! I simply adore you.
Love you, handsome.
"I don't ever want to let you down.
I don't ever want to leave this town.
Cause after all this city never sleeps at night.
It's time to begin, isn't it?
I get a little bit bigger but then I'll admit
I'm just the same as I was.
Now don't you understand
That I'm never changing who I am?"