I just turned around for a minute, and suddenly my drooling, cooing baby boy is four years old! How did that happen? Maybe I was mesmerized by that persistent sparkle you’ve had in your eyes since the day you were born. Maybe I was having so much fun that I just forgot to look at the clock. You arrived second, and last, the perfect exclamation point on the sentence of our family. And as soon as I held you, I knew we were complete.
You surprised me, you know, Caleb. I thought I had this parenting thing down to a science until you came along, so different from your sister, and made me start all over again at the beginning.
At your hands, I have learned to appreciate noises and messes made just for their own sake. I’ve had to make up all new rules, rules I never needed before, concerning the appropriate times and places for showcasing your delightful talent for burping and farting. I have remembered how to be rowdy, and enjoy tickle fights, and win a wrestling match. I have learned how to tense up my muscles at just the right moment before you pounce so that I don’t wake up with black and blue marks all over from boy knees and boy elbows.
I thought I knew all about patience, but I’ve had to master it all over again through your endless poking and prodding of the boundaries and your passionate displays of every emotion known to preschoolers. When you’re disappointed, you howl. When you’re angry, you dig your heels in. When you’re happy (and that’s most of the time) you throw your arms around the whole world and squeeze. Your changeable moods are a challenge, yes, but they’re also a blessing. Even your worst temper tantrum blows through like a summer storm, and within minutes, the sky is clear once more, and you are asking for loves. You sprinkle us liberally with “I love you”s and you eat up hugs and kisses like most kids eat up M&Ms (but then, you like those, too!)
Watching you and Katie play together has been a great and unexpected joy. We weren’t sure how a brother and sister born four years apart would relate to each other, but ever since you were old enough to toddle over and grab a toy, the two of you have been constant buddies, alternately fighting and collaborating, as all good siblings do. You seem to bring out the best in each other, too. Just as Katie, my sweet and serious girl, has always had her head in the clouds, you’ve always turned your face to the sun, and together you have the most outrageous, imaginative adventures. Just the other day, Katie created a “fun fair” in your room, dreaming up all kinds of rides and games, then building them out of blocks and toys and scraps of paper. You ran, laughing, around the room, exclaiming over each one like a kid at a real fun fair, to Katie’s everlasting delight. Your giggles rang out through the whole apartment, and your dad and I just looked at each other and grinned.
We are so blessed.
Happy Birthday, Caleb.