To my Tommy,
You are five today. This is the age that you'll definitely have memories from, when you're old and white-haired someday. I spend my days studying you, so I'll tell you a few things about what I know.
You do big kid things like snore and clip your own fingernails and say words like 'diagonally,' but you're still our baby too, wanting to be carried often, fearing monsters, and loving laps. I watch you and Olive crack each other up as you play peek-a-boo, dance and bathe together, and tickle each other. You are extremely patient with your little shadow and you even share your best, most prized treats (new library books, ice cream cones, magic stones, superhero capes) with her. You're currently teaching her how to jump, and use the hula hoop, and I love seeing you translate your lessons into 18-month-old-speak.
You love silly accents, voices, and faces and have quite a love affair with Strega Nona, who visits from time to time. You're starting to understand jokes and have quite a repertoire of cow jokes from the back of your favorite yogurt squeezers. You love hot chocolate, but only when the barista makes a design in the froth on top! When you hurt yourself, I never know if you're going to try to tough your way through a really serious fall, or sob over a teeny bump.
You can be quite suspicious of new people and things, and can give well-meaning strangers who compliment you in the neighborhood the fish eye. Once you decide to open your heart to a new experience, however, you are joyful and so much fun to watch. Your physical prowess continues to amaze both strangers and us. Recently you said you learned to swim last summer by watching a boy at the pool. You can practically master things the first time you try them, like doing an underwater somersault, flipping into the foam pit, and blowing bubble gum bubbles.
Your current favorite role-playing games are ponies, superheroes, and kittens. You love Richard Scarry books, sparkles, and the Ladybug Girl series. The inner workings of parachutes, cannons, explosions, and gadgets occupy many of your thoughts. You love any time you have with your Papa, especially wrestling, listening to his Star Wars stories, and cooking. The Nutcracker continues to have a hold on you, and you are currently working on memorizing your second autographed Elizabeth Mitchell album.
You show us such a fiery spirit in your resistance to eating and sleeping, to having your picture taken, and with your angry outbursts of sleep talking. Don't let anyone mess with Olive because you will be there pronto with a verbal attack, or maybe you'll dive bomb whoever has the Nose Frida at the moment. But you're tender as can be with draping one leg over us before drifting off, ending each goodbye with a barrage of superhero kisses, and holding Olive's hand in the backseat of the car. You sigh at beautiful things and can appreciate a good stick as much as a rainbow.
You teach me every day. To have a light touch. To forgive and forget quickly. To see the humor and fun in it all. To think quickly on my feet. To pay attention to my tone. To hone my skills at not directly answering questions. Thank you for being exactly the boy you were meant to be. I will continue to nurture that boy, for I love you.