Once upon a time, you were a little baby. An extremely cute one, at that. See over there to the left? There’s some proof.
But sweetheart, that was a long time ago. Because today you are six. Six is an age that sounds old. That’s because it is.
Yes, you’re starting first grade soon and maybe someday when you’re all grown up and reading this you’ll laugh about your silly mama thinking first grade was old and mature. In order to think so, you’d have to have been there right from the start.
But let me tell you a little about who you are at age six. Because, you see, you’re already shaping up to be a very interesting person. When I was about to turn six, I wandered around my street in Hartford and told all the neighbors. On my birthday, a mortifying number of them showed up with gifts for me, according to my mother. I was interesting, too. Thanks for not being interesting in that exact same way, kiddo, I do appreciate it.
You are funny.
Oh, boy, are you funny. Your impressions are spot on and you have comedic timing that frightens me. When your humor turns mouthy it simultaneously scares me for your future and reminds me of myself and your Uncle Josh when we were kids. I had this coming. Last winter your violin teacher watched you performing for yourself in the mirror in your own special way and commented that you’re “the next Jim Carrey”. I’m not sure I’d have paid attention had not Daddy and I said the same exact thing the week before. More than one person has suggested you should have your own reality TV show. You’d bring in high ratings.
You are, apparently, an “angel”.
At school you only show your quiet side. We’re told you are a “rule follower” and you never get in trouble. Yeah, except I was that way too when I was in grade school and I know this won’t last forever. My behavior at school never reflected my “home” self in these years, either. Please keep it that way as long as you can, and I do thank you for not doing the PeeWee Herman dance on your desk in school like your Auntie Sarahjane did.
Last weekend you “helped” me at the grocery store by following me around and discussing what to give Baxter on your birthday* for at least forty-five minutes. We debated whether he likes books better than toys. (For the record we decided he might get more excited about opening toys, but he doesn’t really play with them.) I ordered him a book and forgot to tell you about it, so tonight you greeted me after work – the night before your birthday – by immediately whispering in my ear, “When are we gonna get Baxter’s present??” and you were greatly relieved that I’d taken care of it. This morning you stopped short as you were running past me and asked, “How are you today, Mommy?”
You love your family beyond the moon.
You’re smart as a whip.
Dude, you are always thinking. Always. Sometimes you come into the room where I’m working and just pace: “I need to figure something out,” you tell me, so I keep my trap shut.
You keep track of everything and everybody. When we’re on a walk and I ask which direction we’re walking, you know we’re headed north. You also know we need to walk east to get home. I couldn’t do that until I was 35. Baxter stares at you and wants to know how you figure it out. I do, too. You also have an amazing sense of time. You are constantly talking about what date it is, how many days until some event or other, and exactly what time you got up (“6:38”) and when you ate lunch (“12:42”). It’s impressive to me.
Last week in the car I mentioned to Daddy that we had a pool schedule on our fridge back at home and I didn’t know if it was the schedule for the city pool or my gym’s pool. “It’s for the gym,” you piped up from the backseat, then told us exactly what the gym’s acronym stands for and when the pool was available for family swim. And you were right.
“It must be nice for you to have someone else in the house who’s paying attention to details,” Daddy suggested thoughtfully. I agreed with him.
Although you learned to read last summer, you were very shy about it. It was a while before they realized at school you were reading years above your grade level. You told me you were trying to hide it. But, finally, this summer you are owning it. One night you asked for a turn reading a chapter book aloud and you’ve done it every night ever since. Your favorite series right now is Junie B. Jones; we fall down laughing over those books every night.
You hate attention.
For a kid who’s funny and so “out there” at home, you sure hate attention. And as much as you love your birthday – I wasn’t sure you’d make it until today to turn 6 – you get very anxious about the attention on you. Two nights ago at dinner I smiled at you and you yelled at me (I believe you called me “Missy” and showed me your claws), and you told me not to pay attention to you. When I asked if this was because of your birthday coming, you burst into tears and sobbed on my lap. For the third year running, we will not sing “Happy Birthday” to you because you can’t stand it; it’s overwhelming, all that attention. And I promised you that at your party on Saturday everyone will be busy in the pool and on the playground and they won’t sit there staring at you. You were relieved. You’re learning to tell us how you feel and you’re figuring out what you need. I’m pretty sure that’s more than half the battle in life.
Six-year-old Lyle, I love your wacky sense of humor, your crooked smile, loose teeth, and twinkly eyes. I love you when you’re lighting up the room with happiness and when you’re growling at me in anger. I love you when you’re learning to climb to new heights on climbing walls and when you’re swimming in the pool. I love listening to your little voice reading with such expression. I love your confidence just as much as I love watching you overcome your fears.
I love that you’re turning six because I believe that at six you’ll be more YOU than ever before. And that is something I welcome.
*Thanks to our friends Cara and Michael, we follow the “corner birthday” tradition, in which the sibling receives a small gift as well each year.