Dear Charlie Bucket,
I cannot let the chapter of your fifth birthday close without writing you this love letter.
You are my firstborn (by thirteen minutes) and my only son. I hold a very dear place in my heart for you. Although it is simply impossible that five years have passed since I first laid eyes on you, I remember the moment as clearly as if it were yesterday. In hindsight, it makes perfect sense to me that you were my easy baby in utero. You got in position early and hung out without complaint until you got the green light from the doctors to make your appearance. You let me perform the obligatory pushing for a minute before you casually transitioned into this world. Hardly a whimper did I hear, yet you were perfectly pink and healthy. You’ve always been happy in your own skin, living in the moment. Rarely do you ask me what we have planned for the day or make demands on our family itinerary. As long as I can get you to focus long enough to find and put on your shoes, you’re content to go with the flow. I remember holding you closely those first days in the hospital, listening to your deep contented breaths and saying to Daddy, “This one’s going to be easy.”
Then there was the colic. Oh, the colic. Goodness me, the colic.
When I remember this four-month stretch, I think of several things. First of all, your scream was the stuff of Jamie Lee Curtis horror movies. Secondly, the only person in this whole entire world you would allow to rock you to sleep was me. It was a dubious distinction at best, but we spent hours and hours together rocking, pacing, singing, nursing until you drifted off to sleep. During these sessions, I must have whispered to you a million times how much I loved you. And I do. Then, as suddenly as you were stricken with colic, you recovered, and my sweet, happy, funny baby was back! It was during this time, I think, that you and I bonded in a way I’ll never forget. Though it was difficult and you challenged me in ways I never had been before, we survived together and you always knew that you were loved and never alone.
Though you are now a big boy, I see the similarities to your babyhood. I like to say that you are my lover *and* my fighter. When you give hugs, you often tackle people in the process. For the most part, I don’t think they mind. There’s something about those blue eyes and devilish grin that allows you to get away with more than you should at times. When we first brought Mary Hazel home from the hospital last summer, I might have been a tad nervous about your aggressive affection, but as it turns out, she loves it! The more physical and silly you are with her, the more she belly laughs. I know you have a very special place in her heart, too. I can already imagine how close you two will be when you’re older.
I’ve enjoyed watching you at school this year. You are a gregarious kid who is often the center of attention. It seems that the other children gravitate toward you. And when I try to look at it from their perspective, it’s because you are always having fun. You are known as the silly one.You are often telling tall tales, making up fantastic stories, and convincing folks of things that just never happened at all. (People still ask me about your old apartment.) I think you come by your storytelling quite honestly. Between your daddy and your DanDaddy, you were destined to have a very active imagination! It’s no secret that you have a lot in common with your daddy. The blue eyes, the Hinson chin, the ability to remember every superhero ever conceived – you are your father’s son. And that’s why I have a big ol’ soft spot for you.
You were a trooper to take dance class with Poppy this year. And, as long as I live, I’ll never forget when you ran toward me backstage after the recital, exclaiming, “That felt awesome!” I know you are going to do well in Kindergarten and that you will help your sister feel at ease.
I remember you being four with much happiness and joy. I love playing soccer with you. I enjoy our evening reading sessions. I like how patient you are with me when you try to teach me a new game on the iPod. I like how you still want me to lie down in the bed with you until you fall asleep. I think it’s sweet when you ask me to rock you and sing “I’m a Little Teapot” to you like I did so many times when it was just you and me in the wee hours of the morning. I miss those long nights of rocking sometimes, but I hope that one day we will be staying up late again together when you’re home from college and telling me all about your big hopes and dreams. I will then, as I did before, tell you that I love you and never let you feel alone.