half a decade

before we start, i should tell you — i think my sappy birthday post stocks may be depleted. either that, or the changes and challenges age five has produced have left too bitter a taste in my mouth for it to speak as sweetly as it ordinarily does around this time of the year. but i’m certainly going to try — because after all, tantrums or not, you deserve it. i’m just having a rough go at it, is all. perhaps someday, if you have crazy-making children of your own, you will understand and be willing to forgive me.

i’m writing this nearly a month and a half late, and backdating because, as you surely know, chronology is much too important to my organization-obsessed mind.

i have an inkling the reason i’ve been avoiding writing this for as long as i have is because i knew focusing on the positive wouldn’t be as easy this time around. we’ve barely dipped our toes into year five, and i’m already on the verge of ripping my hair out. that may or may not be an exaggeration. i’ll let you decide.

up until this point, parenting you has been a breeze. i truly never had a reason to complain or be the least bit frustrated. you were terrific when i was told you would be terrible (ages two and three). even age four wasn’t bad. but then you turned five, and now it feels as though you’re a whole different person. a screeching, throwing-himself-down-on-the-ground, scene-making-while-in-public kind of person who defies us nearly every chance he gets. rational me says, “i get it.” this is a testing-the-limits, challenging-everything phase and it won’t last forever. just breathe. we’ll make it through. irrational me says, “kill me now.” sad as it is to admit, i can’t tell you how many times i’ve found myself muttering under my breath about needing a drink — or a one-way ticket to timbuktu.

i try not to dwell on the what-ifs (okay, that’s not true, but i do try to try not to which oughta count for something), but sometimes i wonder if this whole rotten (okay, probably completely normal, but still pretty damn rotten to deal with), breakdown-inducing, five-year-old phase of yours might not be a smidge easier to get through if i had ever actually desired or actively sought out motherhood in the first place. but i digress.

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to my favourite tiny human,

because frustrating phases or not, you will never not be my favourite. i trust you know that.

it’s half a decade now you’ve been earthside — a milestone i’ve been looking forward to long before you drew your first breath, thanks to my affinity for the number five.

there’s no denying it — you’re a proper little kid now. happiest outside, and you don’t even mind getting a little dirty anymore. a massive change from previous years. if it was up to you, i imagine you’d dig in the dirt, scale jungle gyms, and run until red in the face every day of the week. but the newest change of all? sleeping in your own bed. in your own room. every single night. something i thought might never happen. kidding. kind of.

what a creative soul you are. i know this is normal for one’s childhood, but your imagination is really through the roof these days. it seems you’re never not increasing the number of your so-called “ghosty friends.” you kept me up well past bedtime the other day with another lengthy monologue (we’re talking 10-15 minutes) about them — their names, where they live, what they do, all the things i’ve taught you that you’ve since taught them. the more details you share with me, the more i start to feel as if i know them as well as i do you. could this be a precursor for a future of creative writing? oh, i’d love that.

raindrops no longer upset you. paleontology is your current when-i-grow-up dream. afternoon mama-liam dance parties are a mandatory daily occurrence. you take your green tea with two drops of honey. you prefer me to read my harry potter books aloud. you’re hard at work curating the liam art musuem. your eyes light up the most when we walk into science city. talking heads is your number one favourite band, and the great british baking show your number one favourite show. you tell us you want to live with grandma debbie and grandpa john when you’re 18. i think you might even be better at lego games than king-of-video-games papa, and that’s saying something.

you’ve added “yes” and “no” to the list of words you can spell. you can even count to all the way to 100 now, so long as mama counts with you. you give me lectures on composting and recycling, and always point out when someone litters (aka hurts the planet). you asked to make protest signs when donald trump became president, and again when he wanted to keep the refugees out. you set aside a portion of the money you received for christmas to send to people overseas in need, and have plans to one day help them in person in whatever way you can.

but there are plenty of things that remain unchanged, too. your love of colouring being the biggest. you spend a solid 2-3 hours at the coffee table daily with nothing but a box of crayons, some coloured pencils, and a stack of paper. it’s how you start your morning, and end your night. you draw portraits of us, your favourite superheroes, plants, animals, places you’ve been, places you’d like to go.

food is life to you, and your bottomless stomach is still just as bottomless. thanks to you, breakfast, lunch, and dinner are major events in our house, no matter what the day. you’ll start asking for something new to munch on before you’ve even finished the last bite of your current snack. your go-tos are apples, bought-in-bulk trail mix (don’t forget the extra almonds!), and raw carrots, so i suppose it could be worse. and it is rather nice being so well known at the grocery store. or is that a bad thing? ah, well.

it’s difficult to narrow down — so much about you is beyond wonderful, and i’m roughly 99% certain that’s not just my bias speaking — but if i had to, i’d say my all-time favourite thing about you, right now at age five, is your relentless curiosity and your insatiable thirst for knowledge (okay, so that’s two things, not one — but you’re fantastic, and you’re my kid, and it’s a rule: mamas gotta gush about their kids from time to time, so you can just deal with it). i remember seeing them in you as early as age two, and they’ve only grown since. you even asked for an encyclopedia for your birthday, you nerd. that’s a compliment, by the way. papa and i couldn’t be prouder of you.

and best of all, your nurturing soul endures. not only do you care for us, our kitten, your grandparents, your uncles, and people all across the globe you’ve never met, but for every life, no matter how small. when wilder was on the hunt for the apartment fly who sneaked in through an open window, you begged and pleaded for him not to pounce — for him to spare the sad soul. he didn’t listen, of course. but you tried your darndest to save that poor fly, and you mourned him with tears when he was gone, and spoke of his fly family and how heartbroken they would be never to see him again. you still talk about it to this day, who knows how many months after the fact. i reckon your tender heart might remember it forever.

today, on this, your fifth birthday — a day of blueberry pancakes and polka-dotted balloons — i wish you all the happiness in the world, littlun. you’ve certainly given it to us. and also maybe some premature grey hairs. and stress wrinkles. and tension headaches.

still love you to the moon and back, though. always have, always will.

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