My dearest Miles,
As I was thinking about writing this, it occurred to me that this is your last month as a five-year-old. That is mind-boggling to me. How could you possibly be almost six? Six-year-olds read. Six-year-olds go to school. Six-year-olds have wiggly teeth and no longer get their clothes from the toddler size range.
For all but the wiggly teeth, you’re there. We had your first parent-teacher conference at your public school, and your dad and I were so proud. You are becoming an excellent reader, which I see at home all the time. I can barely get through a bedtime story nowadays because you so frequently interrupt me to show me words on the page that you know. One thing I didn’t have as much direct experience with is your math skillset. Your math teacher specifically called out your high performance in that area. Another thing she mentioned was that you are tenacious. There are a handful of kids in your class who can count and write the numbers to 100, but she said that among those, most get bored before they reach 100 on the “write numbers as high as you can” sheet. Not you, Miles. You got all the way to 100, and I bet you would have gone higher if the worksheet had given you enough space.
Photo by Beth Clarke
We were also pleased to hear that you’re doing well socially. I’ve sometimes noticed you playing by yourself at recess, and your teacher said she’s also noticed that as well and sometimes encourages you to engage with others. She also noted, though, that you get along well with your classmates and are well-liked. You seem to be making a lot of friends. You and your new friend, James, are going to have a shared birthday party next month. I asked you about playing alone, whether you’re sad about it and wish you were playing with other kids. You told me no, that you just need a break and some time to yourself. I hear that.
Photo by Gary Clarke
Your dad took your conference report to all the family Thanksgiving gatherings. He’s pretty proud of his Mini-Me, no doubt about it.
You are really into building tetrahedrons (you say tetrahedon and won’t be convinced about that second r) with your magnet toy. You also spend a lot of time writing and drawing on your white board, and of course you still enjoy your PBSkids.org games. I told you a little bit about the Harry Potter universe, because I’m really looking forward to reading those books to you. You may be a little young yet, and for the time being you enjoy hearing stories from the same book every night. This repetition and predictability seems soothing to you, kind of like building the same tetrahedron over and over. You like the same movies, the same snacks, the same lunch, the same routine for everything. I guess when you’re a little kid in a big world, those patterns help you feel secure. I’m glad we can offer that to you (though I still wish you ate more fruits and vegetables).
We had our big choir concert a few weeks ago, and you were proud to sing a special duet verse with me on “Quinn the Eskimo.” We have a special holiday mini-concert tonight. This has been a very busy choir season, and I think you’ll appreciate the break we have after tonight’s event. One song we’re singing is the spiritual, “Go Where I Send Thee.” Not being a religious family, this is the first you’ve heard of a lot of these things. One line of the song is supposed to go, “Five for the gospel preachers.” As we practiced it together over lunch today, I realized you’re singing, “Five for the gang of creatures.” I don’t think that’s probably what the author intended, but I like the image. You also told me, a little shyly, that whenever we get to the line, “One for the little-bitty baby,” you always think about Tobin.
Photo by Gary Clarke
As much as you two squabble, you do really care about each other. I was going through the schoolwork you brought home, and I found a construction paper project on which you wrote, “I am thankful for brthr.” And it would take a fool to miss how much Tobin loves you, Miles. You’ve been home sick the last couple of days (doing much better now, I’m pleased to say), and Tobin kept wanting to go check on you while you rested downstairs on the futon. Unfortunately, his checking on you usually devolved into jumping on the futon and taking your pillow, so I had to haul him back upstairs. But the motivation for the trips downstairs truly was love and concern for you.
I’m so proud of how well your fifth year has gone, Miles. I’m self-servingly glad that you still have a lot of little boy in you, happy to have bedtime snuggles and needing help getting your orange juice from that big container. You are growing more competent all the time, better able to see the big picture. You still sometimes freak out over small things, but that will probably wane. Even your aim is getting better. You hardly got any puke on your sheets the other night.
Photo by Denny Crall
But even if you had, we’d clean it up for you. That’s what mommies and daddies do. We’re so glad to be yours.