Today you are five (that is something like 1,760 days in case you were wondering…and I know you are). I don’t know about you, but I can’t seem to wrap my brain around that number. For me, I can’t believe we made it through the colic, the nighttime feedings, the tantrums, the teething, and late night visits to the emergency room (technically we still make those visits). And for you, well, for you five means you get to go to kindergarten – that place where you get recess twice a day.
Yep, in a flash you’ve turned into the most sensitive and quirky kid I’ve ever known. Sometimes I wish I could crawl inside that head of yours to see how it works, to see how you see the world…to experience life like everything is new. The smallest things make you squeal in amazement – the first firefly of the summer, the distant sound of the ice cream truck making its way through the neighborhood, the first green tomato growing in our garden. Life is here for your enjoyment, and by God, you’re going to do just that. From the moment you were born, I’ve said you were an all-or-nothing kid. Five years later and I stand by that statement.
You make life more enjoyable, which is an incredibly selfish thing for me to say, but it’s the truth. I got more pleasure from watching you enjoy Disney World than I would have had I been there by myself. I don’t think I will ever forget the look on your face as you watched the fireworks light up the sky over the castle. And then there was that hug you gave me after I asked you if you liked it.
You have taken all of your medical issues in stride, charming everyone you come in contact with when we go to the University of Iowa for your appointments – from the nurses to the valets. The techs were so impressed with how still you were during your chest x-rays, you walked out of there with six stickers. You see those visits as an adventure, a chance to break away from the everyday routine. I am trying to learn from you.
Sometimes I wish I could tell you just how much you mean to me. How you brightened my darkest days…after even darker nights. Maybe someday I will share that with you, but not until you are older. You shouldn’t have to carry that burden now. You already worry too much about me as it is.
I love watching you get older – finding things that interest you (penguins, cats, the solar system, and volcanoes) and asking important questions (Where does the sun go at night? What do penguins like to eat? Are there any volcanoes in Iowa?). But there are times when I wish you could stay just how you are today, with those still toddleresque soft arms and legs and your penchant for sitting on my lap when we read together. The way you hug me when you’re sleepy and say, “Mama’s soft” and stroke my hair. I find myself watching you when you don’t know it, trying to soak in every single moment. Your giggle. Your voice. Your mispronounced words.
Don’t get bigger. Stay like this.
But you won’t. You can’t. I know that deep down. But for now I will cling to our nighttime routine: Off go your bedroom lights and on goes your favorite “sleepy” music. And then, in the soft glow of your nightlight, you whisper to me, “Hold me tight, Mama.”
And I do.
Happy birthday, Griffin. You’re my favorite person in the whole wide world.