Growing up is hard when you have no concept of time and live in an endless void where it appears as if your birthday will never come. I can only imagine this is what your existence feels like since every morning for the past two months you would wake up, mumble a good morning and then proceed to ask how many days are left until your birthday. I tried many tactics to keep your hysterical anticipation in check but either you would misplace your “birthday countdown” or you would flat out ignore the words I was speaking to you. Don’t get me wrong, I remember how important a birthday was at your age. Kids basically live for the days where presents and praise are in abundance. To hell with the other days, bring me my celebratory party hat and a slice of cake! I’ll allow you to bask in the glory of another year around the sun because when you’re older, the excitement of another birthday turns into sadness and rage that you’re approaching an age where you should really think about that 401k that you’ve neglected. Shit, getting older is depressing.
You, on the other hand, are five years old. Five isn’t depressing unless you consider the fact that you have at least thirteen years of school ahead of you not including college. Yea, have fun with that. Your birthday fell on a school day this year and you were beyond excited. You didn’t even bother to put on pants that morning and with a tush like yours, I wouldn’t either. I try to make your birthday morning special because it is your day. I usually have balloons on your chair at the table with a sign I’ll make special for the occasion and usually there is some sort of sugary breakfast item awaiting for you because childhood diabetes likes a good party too.
Your actual birthday was very quiet in retrospect from years past but it’s tough to do anything when it’s a school day. You were thrilled that your school friends sang to you and you were really really thrilled to receive the “golden crown” that is bestowed to the birthday boy/girl. We went out to dinner that evening where your father and I watched you struggle to keep your eyes open. Despite eating your weight in sugar throughout the day, you mustered enough energy to eat a pizookie for dessert. Well done.
Turning five years old was important to you because most of the boys in your close-knit circle at school are already five and you felt it was important that you all share that in common. This circle of friends you have at school are hilarious. You call them “your bros” and you walk around as one massive herd. You’re usually in the center of the group and the others are swarming around you. When you talk to them, you always start the dialogue with, “YOU’RE MY BRO!” I worry for the college years. You’re pretty close with this group of boys and it’s rather sweet to see how excited you all get as each and every one of you arrive for a new school day.
Most of the parents have talked to me about how wonderful you are. Such a sweet, happy go-lucky boy. Mm-hmm. It takes everything I have not to choke on my coffee and laugh in their faces. The mother of one of your bros told me a story about a conversation she had with her son. It was regarding the run-a-thon that was held at your school recently. Most of the kids in your class know you’re a runner and majority of them know you’re pretty fast. They know this because they try to outrun you in the morning as if it’s a daily challenge. The mother told me how she had talked to her son about doing his best during the run-a-thon and the point was to run as many laps as possible. The boy acknowledged he would try his best but he wasn’t going to run as many laps as Miles but he was ok with that because Miles is his bro and if he wins, the whole brotherhood wins. Way to make your bros proud, son.
This run-a-thon is a big deal at your school. It’s the main school fundraiser so everybody participates and there are sponsors, spectators, raffle prizes, matching shirts and so on. I’ve heard of the Gator Gallop from several friends who have been attending your school and all have informed me what a big deal it is. You could not wait. Your sister informed us not to expect anything more than a lap from her so we focused our excitement on you because you were actually looking forward to it. You awoke the morning of very early and spent the majority of the morning buzzing with excitement. I returned later in the morning because your half hour to run wasn’t slated until mid-morning. Your teacher told me that you were pumped and continued to ask what the current class record was. You were determined to outrun everyone. Your thirty minutes began and you came out hot. The makeshift track they made for this event is pretty big–perhaps not a quarter of a mile big but still a decent size for a kid your age and stature. At the end of every lap, you would get a lap marked off by a volunteer and you would take off again. I watched you continue to run at a steady pace for 18 laps. 18! I can hardly run one lap without feeling like I’m experiencing my final moments of life. Running is absolute death to me so clearly you’ve inherited something from your dad here. You were happy to receive word from your teacher that you broke the class record with your triumphant running. Your father, upon hearing this fantastic news, became jubilant over the thought that he now has a running buddy. I’ve ran with your dad and all I can say to you is good luck.
You’ve demonstrated to everyone what a fine runner you are. Your athleticism is really top-notch especially for a kid your age. Baseball is really where it all started and where we took note on how much you love sports and competing. You love baseball but even for a five year old, there are moments in the game where you lose interest and well, act as the kid you are. During a recent baseball game, you were playing pitcher. In your league, the pitcher doesn’t pitch but you get to wear a pitcher’s helmet which is a hard helmet with a face mask and you get to stand on the pitcher’s mound and catch majority of the balls that get hit. Kids don’t always hit the ball right away and sometimes you could be sitting their for a couple minutes waiting for it to happen.
You became rather bored waiting for the ball to come your way so we watched as you proceeded to insert your hand into the face mask and continued to push your arm all the way through until you were pretty much eating your armpit. I proceeded to watch you attempt to retract your arm through the face mask with little success. After a few attempts, we heard the sound of a ball hitting a bat and as if my prayers were answered, the ball came rolling in your direction. Never one to give up an opportunity to catch the ball, decided to go for it. With your arm still hanging out of the pitcher’s mask, you scooped up the ball with your left hand and then decided the next logical move would be to transfer the ball to the restricted hand because, why not? With your arm through the mask, you gripped the ball and because you have limited movement, used your whole body to thrust the ball in the direction of first base.
Everyone watching–parents, grandparents, coaches, players–are all hysterical watching this unfold. People are laughing uncontrollably yet they are amazed that you followed through with the play. Your coach realizing that you are still stuck, ran over and helped you pull your arm out. You were beyond embarrassed and needed a few moments to compose yourself but damn if that’s not good baseball. If I have one regret in life it will be that I didn’t capture that moment on film. Perhaps it was your prayer that was answered because I would have shared those pictures with everyone. Hello DMV worker. I’m here to renew my driver’s license and this is a picture of my son throwing a ball to first base with his arm stuck in the face mask of his helmet.
You turning five years old has a much different feel than when your sister turned five. With her, it felt like a slow painful pull of a band-aid. Five years old seemed so big and she was still so small. With you, I turned around and poof, you’re five years old. I would question the accuracy of my calendar if it weren’t for your beloved stuffed lion who indeed looks like it has been loved for five years if not more. You’re not aware of this fun fact but I actually have a backup for your stuffed lion if in the horrific event that “Roar” gets misplaced or destroyed. When I saw how attached you became to Roar at a young age, I knew that I needed to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. A serendipitous trip to a toy store brought me to the one and only duplicate lion I could find and I bought it without even looking at the price tag because I probably would have paid any amount of money for that peace of mind. Curious as to what five years of love does to a stuffed animal, I paired it with his more cheerful counterpart and the picture is amazing.
Equally amazing and shocking are the side by side comparison photos of me now vs. before you came into existence. Amazing and completely accurate.
Five years old is a big deal and it’s difficult for me to accept the fact that you are no longer a baby. I feel like I lose my grip on you a little more with each year that passes and it hurts but it’s also incredible to see you coming into your own. You have this incredibly big personality that pulls people in. You’re very much liked and seeing how happy people are to see you, makes me happy. Putting good people in the world is my main job and it may be too soon to call it but I’m going to go out on a limb and say you’re good people. Obviously, I’m not including the moments you made me cry in a Target. That’s what karma is for.