My dearest Miles,
I think you’ve grown. So many of your pants are too short. I was about to buy you some new pants when your dad told me to stop, you’ve got lots of pants. I’m not sure if he realizes how tall you’ve gotten, though. You’ve finished your school lunch every day this week, which is unusual for you.
Photo by Denny
My tentative diagnosis: you’re six. Six! This birthday spread itself over quite a span. First we had a birthday celebration as part of a late-Christmas gathering with Mubby and Skittergramps. Then we had our immediately family party with decorations, presents, and a special birthday sundae. You were supposed to take treats to school on your true birthday, but the Arctic Vortex came through and cancelled school for two days. The Arctic Vortex is all anybody’s talking about these days, but I have the feeling we’re going to re-read this in ten years and not even remember what it was. Anyway, your teachers adjusted the treat schedule, and you ended up bringing your cake (complete with decorative robot rings) yesterday.
Photo by Denny
I came to your class to help manage the treat situation, and it was so much fun watching you in school. Your classmates seem like a really sweet bunch, and they enjoyed the cake a lot. One task everyone completed was to color a special birthday picture for you, which was a cupcake with a variegated cupcake holder bottom. You did one too, and you were so methodical about coloring in the bottom in a specific pattern. It was a slow process: open the yellow marker, color in one stripe. Put the lid back on the yellow marker. Open the black marker, color in the next stripe. Put the lid on the black marker. Repeat. You got about two-thirds of the way through the cupcake picture before your teacher called the class to the carpet, and it stressed you out that you weren’t done.
That’s how you are: you want to do things right, and you want to do them on your own schedule. You don’t like shortcuts, and sometimes it drives your dad and me kind of crazy when we need to get out the door or put you to bed. As you and your friends were getting bundled up to go out for recess, your teacher suggested that you emulate firefighters: jump quickly into your snowpants and boots. That analogy must not have resonated with you very much. Perhaps you’re better suited to a career in art restoration or computer programming.
Photo by Beth Clarke
One of your favorite things to do right now is make “germs,” which I believe you first learned to do at school. It involves a lot of construction paper snipping and tape. It’s a good thing I got a mega-pack of Scotch tape at Costco a while back, because between Christmas, your birthday, and your hobbies, we’ve been going through it. Your germs are pretty cute, actually—anthropomorphic and colorful. You still need a lot of reminders to wash your hands, but at least germs are on your radar.
Photo by Denny
You’ve been in a very sweet stage lately. You’ve been more patient with your brother than he often deserves. You do have a hard time sharing sometimes, especially your two favorite gifts: a big Play-Doh cake-making kit and a balloon-animal-making kit. Because he wants everything you have, Tobin can get grabby, and you can get frustrated. I understand how you feel, and mostly you do a good job handling it.
It was a very big deal for you to be helper at school yesterday. It’s a rotating honor that coincides with being in charge of bringing snack, so you’ve done it before, but celebrating a birthday also nets a person helper privileges. One helper task I witnessed involved drawing a name from a hat. You drew the name, glanced at it for only a moment, and began giving your friends clues as to who it was. “It’s a boy…his name has seven letters…it starts with Or-Or-Or…” you said, grinning hugely the whole time. That meant Orlando got to choose a prize. Then, the teacher drew another name and gave it to you to read. I didn’t think your smile could get any bigger, but as you said, “It’s a boy…his name has five letters…it starts with Mi-Mi-Mi…” it did, in fact. I don’t know whether whether she chose your name by sheer luck or kind-hearted engineering, but either way, it capped off a great day in kindergarten. You chose a sparkly bracelet. You feel an item has to be really sparkly to qualify as treasure. I blame Jake and the Neverland Pirates.
Now is the part of the Monthly Miles Memo (divisible by 12 varietal) where I get nostalgic about how it seems so recently that you were my tiny little one-hander baby (I could hold you in one hand, I mean—you’ve always had two hands). I’m sitting here on the very same couch where I sat six years ago when we brought you home from the hospital. We didn’t have hardly any baby equipment yet, as your early arrival caught us off guard. Your dad had gone out to run an errand, and I was sitting there, exhausted from the difficult work and little sleep that go along with a baby’s early days. I remember that moment so clearly: I had vague hopes of sleeping, and you were sitting in your car seat because we didn’t have a bouncy seat or swing or anything. I lay down on the couch, which was in such pristine condition back then, and didn’t get any sleep because I couldn’t stop hearing every tiny noise you made.
That hasn’t changed. In the middle of the night last night, I heard you whimpering. I woke your dad up, and he went into your room and comforted you, so all was well. But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to close my ears to you for the rest of my life. Even when you grow up and move away (which you still aren’t completely sure you’ll ever do, and you know it’s okay with me if you want to stick around), I’ll probably still wake up at night, sure I can hear you snoring.
The couch is pretty much destroyed. Your pants are mostly too short. You may never finish that cupcake coloring page. But that’s the way things are, that’s the way you are, and that’s the way I love you. We can buy a new couch (perhaps in a more resilient fabric this time), we can buy you new pants, and nobody ever flunked kindergarten for not finishing a picture. You are six, you are sweet, and you are mine.
Photo by Denny
I love you so much.