Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Six in the books

Dear Ben,

This past year wasn't one of our best. You and I clashed a lot. I think I've yelled more in the past year than all my other years of parenting combined. Really, I think it was the alchemy of you, Sam and me together all the time. I didn't get enough time to myself to recharge, you didn't get enough social time, neither you nor Sam got enough of my attention. Everywhere you looked nobody was getting enough of what they needed and everyone was grumpy because of that. Luckily, our savior arrived in the form of Kindergarten. These past few weeks have been wonderful. You get plenty of social time at school, I get plenty of alone time while Sam naps and we're all much happier when we come back together. We get the chance to MISS each other. It's a very strange feeling, missing you. We've spent most of the last six years together. But missing you makes the times we are together all the more sweet. I look forward to picking you up from school and hearing about your day (what I can get out of you, playing 20 questions). Our conversations are getting more interesting as your mind and world expands. And it's just more fun being together. As you get older you'll realize that even the best relationships need some air, and Kindergarten is just about perfect for us.

One of the best things about this year was COUSINS! Taylor and Beckham were born only a few months apart. You're not overly interested in them yet, as they can't keep up with you, but when you do turn your attention to them you're extremely sweet, doling out hugs and kisses. Avery, on the other hand, is becoming a more worthy sparring companion everyday. She runs and jumps and climbs and swings right along with you. And hearing your duet of the Frozen soundtrack in the back of the van was one of the highlights of my year. It makes me so happy that you get to grow up around cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. That is one of the greatest gifts I can give you.

This year brought a couple of big milestones. You took swim lessons all winter and by the time the pool opened on Memorial Day you could SWIM. Like, for real swim. You even passed your swim test and can now jump off the diving board! I'm so proud of your accomplishment, but even better was seeing you proud of yourself. Your other big milestone was riding on a plane all by yourself! You went to visit Oma and Opa in Phoenix. You're becoming so independent and capable.

You completed your last year of preschool in May. You and Ms. Dee Dee formed a tight bond of silliness and energy. She's the first teacher I think you really connected with and it was fun to watch that. I hope you have many more teachers who inspire you like she did. You also played your first year of baseball, with Daddy as the coach! You've been a natural athlete since you were two years old, so I think you're going to enjoy many more years of playing.

Even though we butted heads a lot this year, in between our yelling and crying I could see you maturing. You're emerging from baby/toddler/preschool-hood and becoming someone who can use logic and have patience and be helpful without even being asked (or not throw a fit when you are asked). Even though you've realized you can use your influence with Sam for evil (i.e. telling him to throw toys or make messes or cause chaos), sometimes you use it for good. You encourage him to eat his unwanted food, or help him in the bathroom or put on his shoes. As always, watching your and Sam's relationship develop is a joy of my life.

It's getting FUN to hang out with you. Like, actual fun, not just kiddie fun. We can all go to movies together now. You and I have gone to the Muny and the symphony and to paint pottery and we even went to Six Flags by ourselves once. You can ride rides that are fun for me, too! And we're moving on to chapter books! All summer we spent our afternoons reading Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (at which you laughed and laughed), Mathilda, Freckle Juice, The Phantom Tollbooth and just last week we started Harry Potter. Harry Potter! One of my favorite book series! It's so exciting to be able to share my favorite things with you.

I'm really looking forward to seeing how Kindergarten molds and shapes you. This year is going to be fun!

I love your pickles and fries,

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