A letter to my son for his fifth birthday

My advice to my son now that he has turned five. | instafather.com

My advice to my son now that he has turned five. | instafather.com

Dear Elliott:

I am not one to understand quantum mechanics. I barely can follow the time jumps in Outlander, or Back to the Future, for that matter.

So please allow me to confused as to how you, a newborn baby just born yesterday, are now five years old and going to kindergarten readiness programs.

That's not how time works.

But here we are. You're now five. You are no longer a toddler. Actually, based on the fact that you're in the 87th percentile for height, you're more like a 3rd grader, but whatever. Dude, I cannot believe how big you are. I mean it. Some days you come down the hall at 5:30 a.m. and not at 7 a.m. like dad asked super nicely but we'll just forget about that for a second, and I can't believe how much space you take up when you sprawl across the bed.

And by sprawl I mean immediately cling on your mom's body like you are trying to get back inside the womb for a permanent residency.

Elliott, I love you so much that it scares me sometimes. Your mom and I get scared, in fact, just watching the news and seeing other boys and girls get shot at because we know there's nothing we can do to protect you. That might seem like a heavy thing to say to a five-year-old, but then again, in the fall you'll be going to school and now school is a dangerous place to send a kid. I don't know, man. I don't have any answers. 

But you still have an entire summer ahead to just be a kid. You play so hard that you start sweating about 2 seconds into any activity. You have so much fun sometimes that you just start shouting at nothing because you're excited. You get so pumped to play with toys that you could have single-handedly saved Toys'R'Us from bankruptcy through sheer force of will. Also, Toys'R'Us is going out of business. Sorry.

Honest Talk With You for Your Fifth Birthday

  1. I always know when you have put your finger in your nose and then put it in your mouth. You are not slick. Please go use germ stuff. Thanks. No, really use it. I can tell when you don't use it. Don't ask how. Dads are smart.
  2. Two years ago, I looked back at what I wrote a year before that: 'I wrote this last year: "When you turned one, I was so proud of you because I thought you were the best one-year-old and I couldn't imagine how you'd get better. What an idiot I was for not believing you'd be even more amazing the following year." What an even bigger idiot I was for not realizing you'd be even more hilarious, curious, loving and cool in your second year.' Last year, I wrote, "Well, I'm a grand idiot for not realizing the best was yet to come. Your third year was even more full of laughter and imagination and creativity and empathy." Let's just assume each year dad is a big idiot. You are getting more and more awesome.
  3. You spent seemingly every day since you turned four thinking and planning your fifth birthday party. Your mom and I are so happy that, against all odds, the weather held out and you had an incredible day. A lot of people love you very much and showed up. You won't understand this now, but you need to value each and every person who takes time in their day to say "You are important to me." 
  4. Speaking of which, although you kiss your mom's butt too much, and I mean that literally, I do adore how much you love your mom. You love her so much! One day that'll transform and you won't be as affectionate, so we are soaking that in now. I still love every single time you hold my hand. Even if your hand got a lot bigger.
  5. I do not know how you got so good at Legos. You might be a genius.
  6. I do not know how you can not flush a toilet and then look at me and tell me that it was your sister's fault when she wasn't in the room. You might not be a genius.
  7. Your twin sisters are now three years old. You still call them your babies. I hope you do the same when you are all grown ups. Never stop taking care of them, dude.
  8. Your mom and dad are professional comedians, but we can't ever make anyone laugh as much as you make yourself laugh when you say the word "toot" as a non-sequitor. One day, we hope to reach your level. And toot is a funny word, to be honest.
  9. Dad has come a long way since the days when I had a tough time controlling my emotions and stress on your worst days. Even then, I still have moments of snapping. You are quick to forgive. And even if dad seems mad for a minute, I love you completely. That never, ever changes. Sometimes, dad needs to pull a Daniel Tiger and count to four.
  10. I have never seen any soccer player talk to his coach as much as you talk to yours during practice. You are very big on providing updates on anything you are doing.
  11. Things you can do since your fourth birthday: Get your own water. Use the toaster. Use the remote. Write your name easily. Things you cannot do: Wipe your butt. Have the ability to hear sound after the phrase "Elliott can you...". Stay still. I'd say overall, you're doing great.
  12. You say very funny things: Me: Elliott, what do you want for your birthday?
    You: Peace and quiet.
  13. Five, Elliott. Five more bites of veggies.
  14. I'm sorry for all the times I was too tired to play or look at the thing you built. I love you for asking. 
  15. You don't realize this yet, but mommy and daddy do a lot of different jobs in part to make sure you have everything you could possibly need to thrive and be happy. But more importantly, we like doing the jobs we have. It's possible to do both. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
  16. I love how we play the game of you pretending you don't like to watch Sesame Street and yet completely stopping what you are doing to watch the entire episode. 
  17. I can't fathom how you are going to kindergarten this fall. You are more than ready for it. But every parent of older kids says this exact thing: "Once they hit kindergarten, it goes by in the blink of an eye." All of them say it! All of them! I don't want to blink and miss it. But I also love seeing how you grow. 
  18. What started as an occasional sleepover in your sisters' room has become a nightly trend - your old crib mattress on the floor at the foot of their beds so you can sleep with them. They love it, and I think you do, too. One day, that'll end, but when you all hit your 30s, remember that stuff. That's a bond that doesn't break.
  19. We have come a long way since those colicky nights and endless nursing sessions and hours of driving you around so you'd fall asleep. You don't have a rocking chair in your room anymore. You get dressed on your own. But you're still my baby boy. Forever.


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