My beloved Miles,
Today I went in to talk to the office staff at your preschool about signing up for the summer session. I figured we’d probably put you in half-day preschool like you’re in now, plus I saw there was a special kindergarten preparation class for a few weeks in June. Then I thought maybe toward the end of the summer you could switch to full-time so you could get some practice eating lunch and spending the afternoon at school like you’ll be doing once you start kindergarten for real in the fall.
“Actually, Miles should sign up for the kindergarten summer classes, not preschool,” Amber told me.
I did my best to act unfazed, like she hadn’t said such a shocking thing about my tiny little boy, the one who only just barely made the potty-training requirement in order to start preschool at Willowwind a couple of years ago. That little guy couldn’t possibly be eligible for kindergarten sessions. Those were for the big kids, the ones who just finished kindergarten, surely. You’re a preschooler, a little Montessorian. But they seemed sure, and it actually worked out better schedule-wise to do those classes anyway, so that’s how it will be.
You’ll still do mornings-only for most of the summer, then we’ll add on an afternoon session for the last week or two. It will be an interesting exercise to figure out what you’ll eat from a lunch bag, since your usual lunch choices don’t translate very well to the ziplock context. Maybe we can find some kind of Thermos so you can have noodles now and then.
But that’s the future, and now is the time to reflect on the last month and the last year. This month has been lots of fun, with Christmas and family and your birthday. We were sad to lose Grammy and Aunt Jeanne. Two funerals made our holiday travels not the joy-filled adventures they usually are. They were both really special women, and I’m glad that you have some of both of them floating around in your DNA.
Photo by Beth Clarke
You had your first big birthday party last weekend, to which you invited your whole class. Though we hear about certain friends now and then, you don’t seem to have latched on to a particular best friend. A couple of your favorite pals, Sienna and Theo, were unable to make it due to being out of town and sick, respectively. You still had fun, bouncing in the bouncy house and riding around on Big Wheels at the gym. I’ve had several parents tell me how much they and their kids enjoyed the party. We had a lot of fun at our family celebration the following night (your true birthday, as you were quick to emphasize, due to your love of accuracy). You liked your dinner and your presents, and you were very magnanimous about letting your brother rip open packages for you. We have one more celebration left this weekend, when Mubby and Skittergramps visit. After that you’ll be really, thoroughly five.
Photo by Gary Clarke
Five. I clearly remember being five. I know I remember things from earlier years, too, but those are more memories of certain events and scenes. From being five, I remember wide swaths, from going to kindergarten to losing teeth to, at the end of my fifth year, Uncle Tyler being born. This makes me think you’re forming impressions of the world now that will stay with you. No longer can I reassure myself after questionable parenting decisions by saying, “Oh, he’ll never remember that.” You’re going to remember more and more going forward. I guess it’s time I got my act together.
I’m mostly kidding. You’re a great kid, and while I certainly can’t take all the credit, I must being doing more right than wrong. You have some areas in which you could grow (so do I), but I’m proud of the compassionate and kind, observant and sharp person you are. You are always excited to go see Tobin after he wakes up from a nap, hugging and loving him and cooing sweet things to him. You are his idol. When you’re at school, he sometimes cries and says, “Bubby bye-bye.” He squeals with glee when I tell him it’s time to go get you. I hope he can handle it when you start going to school all day.
The general personality you’ve developed continues. You’re still a bit shy and reluctant to talk to people you don’t know well, and good lord can you be moody. Too much stimulation with too little down time wears you out, as does being off your routine. But I’ve also seen tremendous improvement in your confidence, ability to articulate your feelings, and ability to reason through tough situations. You’re growing up, little Miles.
A couple you know is breaking up. Your dad and I have been talking about it, and I didn’t want you to overhear things and silently worry, so I tried to explain it clearly and honestly to you. I don’t usually make promises I can’t be 100% sure I’ll keep—this is my own accuracy obsession in play. I didn’t tell you that people only die when they’re very old like Grammy, because how would that explain Aunt Jeanne, who was younger than your grandparents? I want you to be able to trust me, but I also want you to feel secure. It’s a tough trick trying to balance honesty and reassurance.
The couple has kids, and you were worried about them. I explained to you that they’ll still live with their mom and see their dad a lot (for some reason you had the impression that they’d need to find a new mom and dad, so we cleared that right up). I also told you that it would never happen in our family.
This is where I feel weird making promises. I can’t see the future, and I bet that family never thought it would happen to them either. But having you changed my relationship with your dad in a monumental way. He’s fantastic: he is a great father and partner, and he makes me feel loved and appreciated every day. He works really hard to support us financially, but he doesn’t use that as an excuse to check out emotionally. Your number zero birthday, the day we truly became a family, changed things. I am happily married for sure, but that’s secondary now. What matters is that we are a unit.
You made that unit, Miles. Thank you. It’s a stronger bond than I ever realized I could share with anyone.
Photo by Gary Clarke
The other night at bedtime, I was lying in your bed with you reading stories. You have a double bed, which is nice for bedtime story logistics, but after I finished the stories and turned off the light, you stayed smooshed up against me with your head on my dudju (pillow, for the uninitiated). It was not comfortable, and since you like me to stay with you until you fall asleep, it seemed untenable. I asked you to please scootch over to your dudju.
You did. A minute or two later, in the dark of your room, I felt you shake a little and choke back sobs. I asked you what was wrong, thinking you were sick or there was something on your mind from school you hadn’t told me. You didn’t want to say, but I finally coaxed it out of you. You were sad because I asked you to get off my pillow.
On one hand: really? You’re going to have to toughen up if that’s the kind of thing that can reduce you to tears.
On the other hand: after a long day, you love going to bed. You love your bedtime stories. You love our “Night night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite, that’s right” ritual. You love cuddling up. I’ve heard about the battles some parents going through trying to get their kids to bed, and we’ve never had to worry about that. My biggest bedtime problem is that my tired little boy likes to be near me.
Photo by Beth Clarke
Life is short. I invited you back to my dudju and held you close until you fell asleep.
There will always be a place for you on my dudju, whether you’re five or fifteen or fifty.