Thursday, June 4, 2020

A Letter to Oskar on his 6th Birthday

Today, you’re six whole years.  Still up at 6am every day, still so incredibly full of life. You spend every second talking, analyzing, planning, sucking up every last bit of your days. This year held the most growth and change of any prior years combined for you (except for probably the first) and it’s hard to wrap it all up into a few short paragraphs. You're just such a big kid now, and I'm both proud and a little sad that you're growing up so fast.

You started the year in a preparatory Kindergarten classroom, getting you ready for Kindergarten at our public school this coming fall. Oh, how you’ve thrived and learned, with your best friends alongside of you. I’ll always remember you with your Solar System backpack on your back and sheets of homework that you loved doing stuffed inside. I know all parents say this, but you, Oskar, are the smartest 6-year-old I’ve ever known. You read and write so beautifully and are so incredibly inquisitive, wanting to understand every part of the world around you. You’ve poured through chapter books these last few months, gobbling up the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”, “I Survived” and Pok√©mon series. You’re a perfectionist and are unbelievably particular, leaving not a darn thing unnoticed.  You LOVE to learn and don’t give up until you get it, even if that means tears of frustration along the way. For so long we debated whether to send you to Kindergarten at age 5 or to give you the extra year, and now, reflecting back, there’s not a doubt in my mind that we did the best thing for you. You’re SO unbelievably ready to be a leader and a helper to others this coming school year, which is exactly where you thrive the most.

You’re still a sensitive soul and feel things so deeply. Your feelings get hurt easily but you’re also very much an empath—it hurts you to see others hurting too. You love so big, closer and more attached to mama as ever, needing hugged and cuddled throughout the day, wanting to fall asleep holding my hand.

This year really narrowed the 21 month age gap between you and August, mostly because August adores you and emulates everything you do. You’re his hero. You’re always side by side, either swimming in the pool, watching a show together, playing Nintendo, or playing some imaginary game. You're such a LEGO master, building sets for you or your brother almost obsessively, putting together hundreds of pieces meant for ages 8 and up without even blinking an eye. Or then, of course, you’re fighting, which happens a lot, too. Lately you two "jinx" each other non-stop, or race while taunting that "first is the worst and second is the best", not really knowing whether you want to win or not, driving me absolutely insane. The constant bear-cub wrestling is slowing (though certainly not gone), replaced by games between two boys that are slowly growing up. You love Star Wars and Pokemon and have filled your room with LEGO ships that you’ve built or cards that you’ve collected and memorized. You also have the sweetest group of best buds from school that you’ve grown up with, and it makes me so sad that you’ll be going to different elementary schools next year. I know you’re so sad about it too, nervous for a year ahead without those familiar faces or inside jokes to help you with such a big transition. Thank goodness for our sweet neighbors who will be getting on the school bus with you, some of your very best friends that have become family. 

You were excelling at both karate and in a swimming class this year—your need to move satisfied perfectly by both. You also played a season of t-ball, nervous as ever to try something unfamiliar that might not come to you right away. You got into a groove a few games later, and watching you play in your oversized shirt and eye black made you look so grown up. Between school and your activities, you had lots of structured, predictable time built into your days, which is really what you needed. The Type A in both you and me. So when COVID-19 came and our worlds stopped as we knew them, I really worried about how to handle your idle days. You’ve never done well being bored. What I’ve learned, however, is that pushing you into that uncomfortable space of having to figure out what to do has done wonders for you, and you’ve adapted so much better than I thought you would. 

Which brings me to the biggest change this year. Your baby sister, born just days before the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, a double whammy of how your life would turn upside down. I’ll never forget your face meeting her at the hospital. You were so in love. You’re always holding her, cooing at her, giggling with excitement when you make her smile. You help me with everything—getting diapers when I need them or watching her while I take a shower. Most recently I let you feed her a bottle of pumped milk and I thought your heart was going to explode with happiness. Watching you love her is exactly what I had dreamed. This is only the beginning of something really special between you two, I just know it. 

We’ve been home since March 7th together, quarantined and trying to stay safe and healthy from the COVID-19 pandemic. Somehow, we’re surviving together. You’ve finished hundreds of pages academic workbooks, but we've also learned so much together. We take daily walks, you on your bike, zooming around and trying out new tricks for me to score. In a lot of ways, this quarantine has certainly been difficult, but it’s not often—if ever— that you’re given the gift of time. This is the most I’ve ever been able to spend with you and I’m fairly certain I’ll look back in another 6 years, thankful for this moment, a freeze frame of your childhood that for once, didn’t go too darn fast.

Happy happy birthday my beautiful six-year-old big kid. Your biggest birthday wish was for a hover board but concluded that it was probably way too much money and never asked for it again. I can’t wait to see your face when you unwrap it today. Always be confident in yourself and stay the sweet and gentle boy that you are. Sensitivity and vulnerability are your biggest strengths, so don’t ever let the world harden you. I’ll hold your hand forever if you’ll let me.



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