Dear Kien, You’re Five
Last year, I predicted that four was going to be a game changer. Boy, was it. This year, you let us into the workings of your mind a bit more. I think I like it in there! This year, I think we finally bonded.
I mean, we’ve always bonded. Well, not always. You played hard to get for a while. But this year, I think I get you.
This year, your obsession expanded from dragons to snakes. When you are into something you are ALL IN. Your snake obsession, combined with your imagination, meant that no string/rope/pipe cleaner/belt within eyesight could be saved from becoming a toy. When we purged your toys, you were willing to give up perfectly nice toys, like airplanes and dump trucks, for a frayed shoe lace you had turned into a snake. Your drawing skills have slowly improved, and thank goodness for that because you had a short obsession with squids before moving to snakes. For a two month period, anyone who didn’t know you and only saw your drawings would be worried about your unhealthy interest in drawing phallic things EVERYWHERE. Your obsession with snakes then expanded to reptiles in general, and then looped back to include dragons. So here we are, playing with ropes that are snakes, catching geckos and frogs every evening this summer, and celebrating with a dragon-themed birthday party. You’ve got your stuff together!
I think the biggest growth I’ve seen, besides the literal growth (you’re no longer easy to carry around), is the growth in your ability to express emotions. Before, you used to express three dominant emotions: indifference, ugly crying, and ridonk happy. Now we have all the shades in between. Your tears are more often silent and slow to form. Your rage makes you shake. You express your frustrations through controlled communication. And now, you express…love and gratitude! In fact, most mornings, I wake up to you cuddled right next to me. When I come home after a long day, you run to give me hugs (anaconda hugs). When I drop you off at school, you always demand a hug, a kiss, then you walk me to the door and wave and blow me kisses until I’m out of sight. You have no idea what a gift that is to start my work day with a huge grin on my face. You look forward to bedtime when we can talk about our day. You say “I love you.” See! We’re bonding!
Here’s another thing I’m excited about: you and me, we’re going to be food buddies. We’re kicking Dad and Quinn to the curb on this. I think we like the same stuff, like shell fish, pungent foods, adventurous foods…you’re willing to try it all. And, every time, you either say, “I don’t like that” or, if you like it, you simply ask for more. Most importantly, when I’m cooking, no matter what it is, you have been saying, “Mo-ohm, your cooking smells good.” I swear, my heart swoons every time I hear that.
This year we enrolled you in Tae Kwon Do (which we routinely follow with “It’s not Tae Kwon Don’t!”). We thought you needed a bit more structure and focus to accompany your quirkiness. And boy, those first few months, you were seriously, head-shaking, eye-averting, guffawing, crazy awkward. I loved it. Watching you do jumping jacks was like watching a baby orangutan do the macarena. Every punch, kick, or jump resulted in you landing on your butt. Even a simple bow to the instructor resulted with your head on the floor with your butt in the air. When everyone was doing laps AROUND the cones, you were going extra slow to make sure you could jump OVER the cones. You hated it. Then you loved it. Now you like it. But you’ve stuck with it (or we’ve made you) and you’re good! I can’t wait to watch Karate Kid with you. The original one, not the remake with Will Smith’s son.
One morning, just one month ago, you woke me up and I noticed something different about you. You had brushed your teeth, washed your face, combed your hair, and made your bed. My jaw hit the ground and I shook you as if you were possessed. Who are you kid? It’s kind of what you do now – not every morning, but many mornings. When I ask you to go get dressed, you come out of your room with a collared shirt and slacks. Of course, there’s always a few strands of hair sticking straight up in the back and toothpaste on your cheek. But you’ve got a sense of yourself now. And, let me tell you kid, you’ve come a long way from screaming murder every.single.morning because the sky wasn’t the color you thought it should be.
This past year, your dad and I made a big decision for you and we won’t know if it’s the right one until perhaps puberty, or college. As a summer baby, you will be the youngest in your class in kindergarten. If we were to hold you back, we feared you might be bored. If we put you through, we feared you might be self-conscious and less sure about your quirkiness, and retreat more inward. I’ll be honest. I really agonized over this decision. There isn’t a right one. But many friends told me there isn’t a wrong one either. So, we’re putting you through because we think you’re ready. If this does prove to be wrong, I’ll go ahead and delete this post so you’ll never know there was a decision to be made in the first place. As this past year has progressed, I’ve been feeling more comfortable with our decision. You’re really coming into your own. I think there will always be bullies and naysayers, and kids who won’t understand why you answer questions with lines from movies, but hey –
You know Tae Kwon Do.
In addition to that, I hope you will always know that being different is what makes you special. Being kind to others, even when not everyone shows kindness back, is what makes you strong. I already see these things in you.
You know I’ve always loved you. Now, I really like you. I really, really like you.
Happy Birthday, Kien. You’re five.