Today you will be a kindergarten graduate and I am feeling an overwhelming rush of emotions. I picture you as the toddler that you were, barely able to speak coherent words. The years we invested in speech therapy for you–spending countless time at home teaching you the sound of letters, pointing to words, enunciating everything, forcing Olivia to just be quiet for one second so you could find your own voice.
You were a difficult baby/toddler/child. Never one to be shy of belting out a cry when the setting wasn’t just so or if you were just plain tired. You were not ashamed to show your dismay for any situation and somehow knew that my favorite places e.g. Starbucks and Target, were the prime locations to exhibit very public tantrums.
Your constant movement and neediness was exhausting. I reflect now and can laugh at a lot of those moments but they were so tiring. I cried a lot. You cried a lot. I screamed a lot. Sometimes at you and sometimes into my pillow. I recognize there are amazing parents out there dealing with so much more and it makes me feel inadequate that this healthy vibrant baby boy nearly broke me. How silly I was to feel so overwhelmed. Truth is, nobody tells you what to expect when you have a child. People told me to never expect one child to be similar to another child. I think we became comfortable with Olivia and her easy-going personality and when you exploded into this world with your big personality, we were blind-sided.
We’re in a good place now. Your strong personality is one of your strengths. Thankfully, you’re no longer an asshole because as a toddler, you most definitely were. You’re a bright soul with a yearning to bring people together. You smile and laugh a lot with a joy that is contagious. You love your friends and they love you. You loving making people happy which is ironic given how often you made me sad when you were younger. You’re confident and proud. I look at you and I think, wow, this kid is capable of doing anything. It’s true that I worry in the sense of you following the wrong crowd and getting into trouble but really this is a fear of any parent regarding any child. You like following older kids because you’re always anxious to learn more and to do what older kids can. Never is it enough to just run a 5k–next time you want to run a 10k. Playing catch is fun but you want to perfect your slider pitch because the older boys in the neighborhood are working on their pitching. You are influenced very easily and this concerns me as you get older and kids start to find themselves getting involved with bigger issues. I saw a video recently of a man taped to the side of a car while driving down a major freeway and while watching it I thought to myself, yup, I can see you doing that.
I can relate a great deal with Olivia–we’re both socially awkward and speak in sarcastic tones. We’re perfectionists and find a great deal of frustration when things don’t play out like we had anticipated. You, on the other hand, are unlike anything I know. You’re social and need constant stimulus. You accept failure and disappointments with ease and can quickly move on to the next thing when something doesn’t go as planned. Take for instance swim team. You were going to join the swim team with your sister this year after graduating from swim school and finally feeling confident in the water. Since this was your first year, you needed to try out for the team. No big deal since just about anyone and everyone gets accepted to the team unless you’re drowning (even that doesn’t seem to be an issue given how a 6 & under girl was just rescued by a lifeguard this week during practice and is still on the team). You were nervous being in a new unfamiliar pool and you didn’t quite perform as you could. I figured that nervousness would be recognized by the coaches and you would get another chance. I was shocked to learn that you did not make the swim team despite all of your friends making it. You were sad and disappointed but it didn’t trouble you. Instead you asked if we would practice lacrosse or play catch instead during swim team practice. Had that happened to Olivia, she would be crying hysterically in her bedroom vowing to never enter another pool for as long as she shall live. She would deem herself unworthy and a terrible swimmer. You see this not as failure but as an opportunity to do something different.
Today, I will watch you graduate kindergarten and my heart will be overwhelmingly filled with love, admiration and pride. You and I have come a long way together. The tears, laughter, sadness, frustration, and joy are all worth it when I see the handsome intelligent witty jubilant boy presented in front of me. You will move mountains, kid.