Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dear Donovan,

Dear Donovan,

Holy cow you are big. Big noises, big messes, big smells, big advances, big heart. I love that you are totally opposite from Ainsleigh because it gives me an entirely different perspective. (This is also something I don't always love, but it keeps me on my toes.)

This year you graduated from kindergarten and moved into full-time first grade. The first couple weeks were a hard transition for you. After the first couple days, you asked if you could come home at lunch. And stay. On Tuesdays I volunteer in your classroom and I finally had to tell you I wasn't going to come any more if you kept hugging me as I left and whispering, "Can you take me home with you?" Want to know a secret? I was acting annoyed with your request so I wouldn't cry. If taking you home and making you macaroni and cheese and setting up a Marble Run with you would guarantee your cheeks would stay soft and spongy and you'd always want me to tuck you in at night and beg me for ONE MORE HUG AND A KISS, then I would have whisked you out in a second. But here's the truth: you have to grow up. Well, the truth is you get older, and it's my job to make sure you grow up. Sometimes it's the worst job in the world (reference: previous sentence). But most of the time it is the best.

It's the best job because you are the best boy. I can say that effortlessly the way I can tell Daddy he's my favorite husband ever. But still, you have an uncanny ability to make me grimace AND giggle in the same breath. Your generosity often stops me in my tracks, as sharing with your sisters or parents come effortlessly. When something great happens, you immediately want to tell Ainsleigh. You include Gemma in your knights/legos/Harry Potter playing, but do so by showing Gemma how she can adapt her princesses or Ducky. She thinks you are the greatest thing ever, and I might have to agree with that. I love that you love your sisters. You know your sisters so well, you know exactly what to do to make them scream/whine/cry. And let's be honest: you do a fair share of that. I hope you will always have such close relationships with your sisters.

You are in a combination first/second grade class and Miss Wheeler is one of the best things to ever happen to us. With her, you have improved your reading and expanded your math so that you are in advanced groups and working above grade level. I love listening to you read. You sound words out in your head so there's a slight pause at a word you don't know, and you are beginning to read with feeling. You keep trying to read books that are way above your level, but that's fun for me to see, too. Math is something that comes naturally to you and that is something I can totally relate to. Math just makes sense to you. It's like I can see the patterns and concepts settling into your brain, like you're cracking a code.

This year you played more soccer, and I loved refereeing your games. You also tried flag football for the first time. This was a little harder since it involves actual plays and listening skills (something we're still working on at home). But despite making some big errors, you loved it. You have a pretty good arm, too. Playing soccer and football was a bit difficult on the family schedule, so when you asked if you could play lacrosse, too, it was easy to say no. But hardly a day has passed that you haven't mentioned it. Santa brought you a couple lacrosse sticks this year, though, so I guess we'll have to sign you up for the spring. Ski school starts next weekend and you are excited to tear it up on the slopes.

I love that you always have time for a hug. I wonder how much longer you'll hug me at school and let me bury a kiss in those soft cheeks of yours. I'll take it while I can get it. I also cherish the moments you approach me with a long, mournful face and tell me about something that has been troubling you. When I see that confidence slipping on your face, I wrap you in a tight hug and whisper that you are my boy and I love you more than you will ever know. We've talked about how to ask a teacher to not call you by a nickname you don't like, or what kind of qualities make a true friend, or why you didn't have good behavior in art that one time. You have been sad in those moments and I am so glad you came and talked to me about them. Every one of those talks have ended with you hugging me back and then being incredibly affectionate in word and deed for the rest of the day. Please always come and tell me when something is bothering you. I promise I will always have time for my boy.

This has been the year of bookmaking for you. I wonder if it is due, in part, to your imagination being captured by Harry Potter. Together we have walked the halls of Hogwarts and battled He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. On your own time, you have gone through more paper and staples than I would have imagined as you have constructed books such as "The Pumkin Brothers," and "The Turky Brothers." But it all started with "The Ghosts," which turned into a series ("The Ghosts Halloween," "The Ghosts Thanksgiving," "The Ghosts Christmas," - I wonder if there will be "The Ghosts Valentine's Day"?). They say a good writer writes what they know, and the genesis of this authoring craze was borne from you falling out of bed one night (when your bed was lofted) and thinking it must have been ghosts that pushed you out. That first book talks about how the parents didn't believe the kids who said there were ghosts until the ghosts began to haunt the parents (something you must have wished). I was amused to see that the mom in the story was scared to death. Literally. I loved that an entire chapter (a page) was devoted to this sad event: "The kids were so so so sad. So was Dad." Watch out, Newbery Medal - he's gunning for you! My favorite part is when you include on the back, "About the Othr," and a delightful, if exaggerated, bio. You have tried to give some of your earliest works away, but I've kept them because they are priceless.

Despite your infectious grin and devious eyes, you're not all jokes and silly times. A couple weeks ago you asked me if we could give our next door neighbors scriptures for Christmas. This kind of took me off guard. I'm not accustomed to handing out scriptures to people. I asked what prompted the request and you said you had been playing with the (9 year old) neighbor boy and you said you had read about Jesus in the scriptures. When he said he'd like to read about Jesus, you asked if he would like some scriptures. He said that yes, he would, and you replied that you'd ask your mom. I talked to the mom to make sure it would be ok and she asked if we could mark the passages of Christ's birth. I am grateful for a 6 year old who has a budding testimony of the scriptures.

Years from now, you'll read these letters and I want you to remember that your mom used to chase you around and sit on you when you weren't doing what you were supposed to. And sometimes, just SOMETIMES, if you were being a turd to your sisters, she might tackle you and...let's say toot (to keep this classy) on your back. I might run a tight ship, but I look for opportunities to surprise you, hoping for that explosive laughter that instantly brightens my mood.

I love how big you are. I love watching you change into a little man. I love that you love me. Someday, you may lose those squishy cheeks (that would probably be ideal, eventually), but I will always have a kiss for them. Above all else, I want you to know that I will always always always love you. That's a part of this job I take very seriously.