Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dear Donovan,

You are the boy I always hoped I'd have. You are loud and stinky and sensitive and hilarious. You play and learn and love at top speed all the time. But when you are hurt or sad, you love my hugs and my lap and my kisses.

This year you learned a hard lesson in honesty. I was incredibly proud with how you handled it, and how you have earned back your teacher's trust. Your apology note is something I will treasure forever. I love all your writing, actually. From your self-published books to notes to schoolwork, you are becoming quite the writer. You have also loved reading, and I've been delighted with how you beg to "stay up just a little bit later reading?!"

I also love how easily math concepts sink in. You learn something, and then you can expand it to a bunch of others. I've been trying to convince you to show your work, but you get annoyed because "it's faster to do it in my head." You are excelling at school and love the extra little math group they pull you out for. I love seeing you in your environment at school when I come to volunteer. You are a good kid.

You have been great with Albus. You were bummed you couldn't come to the airport with us to pick him up, because of a soccer game, but you have made up for any lost time by playing fetch with and walking Albus around the neighborhood over a hundred times. You hate picking up the poop in the backyard, but who doesn't?

I love how you are a good friend. Whether it is to your sisters (who adore you), friends at school, friends at church, or the chatty passer-by, you are a willing conversationalist and have ideas about everything. While I didn't love the circumstances, my heart was bursting with love for you when we attended the funeral of the brother of your friend from school. It's not easy to sit through a long, sad funeral, but you knew it was important to be there for your friend. And you looked handsome in your suit. You have been wonderful to keep an eye out for those who may not be happy or struggling to make friends.

One thing I see in you that worries me is your crippling desire to succeed. Maybe crippling is too harsh a word. But it's like you have an illogical fear of failing. A couple weeks ago, you could barely ski because your stomach hurt. I didn't put 2 and 2 together until the evening when you had to go swim time trials. This was your first time doing it, and you were nervous. This isn't the first time when you have had stomach aches about not doing well. You had it on the first day of kindergarten, for crying out loud. You've had it the night before assessments. I remember, vividly, sitting in my dad's beanbag chair on a Sunday night, unable to eat popcorn(!) because I was worried about the CTBS testing the next day (that was California's standardized testing. in elementary school. this particular memory was from second grade). I remember my parents blowing me off with, "You'll do FINE." and "If you don't, it's not a big deal - it's just testing what you know." and "But really, you'll do FINE." I never believed them, sure I would fail miserably and be embarrassed. I also never failed. Or came close. Not to toot my own horn, but I was always like 98th percentile. You, Donovan, have the same "problem." So, as your mom, I'm trying to honor those feelings, but also kill them. You are a clever boy, and that will take you far in life.

You have come leaps and bounds in both football and soccer. I love screaming myself hoarse as you tear it up on the field. You love throwing the football with Dad in the backyard and have high hopes of being a great quarterback someday. I'm not sure I'll ever approve moving to tackle football, so you better hope flag football starts to get more attention.

I love, above all else, that when you are sick or sad, you come to me. I love that I am the person who can hold you and hug you and tell you everything will be ok. I love that you will hug me out of the blue. I love when you compliment me on dinner. I love that anytime I ask you to unload the dishwasher, you don't argue or whine, you just start doing it. Picking up clothes and socks off your floor - that's another matter. I don't love remind you and you don't love doing it. I love how you can always make your sisters laugh. I love that when you ask to have a friend over and I ask what you'll do, you look at me like I'm an idiot and say, "Um...PLAY." And then you actually do just that and I never see the two of you, but hear bits of chaos and laughter and general noise so I know you're still alive.

You love to see shapes in the clouds and play with your dinosaurs and listen as I read picture books and I wonder how much longer you'll enjoy these things. At some point, you'll probably stop (or slow down) telling me you think I'm pretty or that I'm the best. I'm pretty confident you'll never stop telling me how good my food is or laughing at my jokes, but that's because I love food and can say stuff that surprises you.

You keep being awesome, and I'll keep cooking and throwing bathroom humor out there. Deal?