Tomorrow morning you’ll wake up like usual, creep around the corner, and whisper “Dada, can I come lay down with you?” You’ll climb over me — somehow finding a way to knee me in the balls no matter how I defend against it — and snuggle next to me. You’ll sleep with your knees pulled up to your chest and your feet perpetually kicking me. And I won’t move or complain, because I only have about five minutes before I need to get up for work — and these are the best five minutes of my day.
As fast as those five minutes go by, the last five years have rocketed past us at a special brand of warp speed familiar only to parents. In some ways it was only yesterday we were wondering whether you were a boy or a girl at the hospital, and in other ways it feels like you’ve been around forever and we can’t clearly recall our lives before you.
Today, on your 5th birthday, I need you to know a few things. Things I tell you all the time, but that need to be recorded for your teenage years when we’re at each other’s throats and I need a reminder of what a good kid you are.
Because you’re a great kid. Honestly, you’re spectacular. Sure you misbehave and get mouthy and disrespectful sometimes, but that’s part of being five. All in all, I marvel at how well-behaved, polite and thoughtful you are on a daily basis. It’s like someone magically took all the best parts of your mom (she has an abundance) and me (of which there are regrettably few), and injected them into you. Case in point:
– You are unfailingly polite. Everything is “please” and “thank you” without us having to constantly remind you. You also hold open doors for everyone and always let ladies go first.
– You’re a natural storyteller. You have my flair for the dramatic and ability to command a room and everyone’s attention. It’s no surprise since the day you were born consisted of a traffic jam, road closures, dead bodies, and the State Police. And to top it off, when you tell said tall tales you do so by gesturing wildly with your hands to make your point — exactly like your mother.
– Your empathy knows no bounds. When someone you love is sick you ask how you can help make them better. When Mom falls asleep on the couch you sneak over quietly and give her the lightest kiss on the forehead. When you saw a cat with no collar you begged us to take her home so we could care for her. Even when you play with your friends it’s not destructive and you seldom try to kill or blow things up. You’re a fixer and you want to make things better. I love that about you.
– You are a total people pleaser. When mom and I are disagreeing you NEVER take a side. And on the rare occasion we argue in front of you, you always intercede and try to get us to stop without ever assigning blame. Some would say you’re a born politician with how you walk the tightrope, but that’s not the case. You just want everyone to be happy and you’ll go to the ends of the Earth to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.
I could go on forever but the point is, you are an absolute joy Will. I love you so much for so many reasons. Did you know you are the main reason mom and I kept trying to have another baby? It’s true. I mean of course we wanted another baby, but you made the decision that much easier because of your personality. You’re loving, patient, kind, and always ready and willing to help. You have every quality a big brother should have and it would’ve been a travesty to deny you a role for which you are perfectly suited.
You’ll get lots of presents for your birthday and you deserve them all. But I’m just not sure there is anything I can give you that is greater than what you give to me on a daily basis. When you tell me you want to work with me when you grow up so we can always be together. When you catch me staring at you in amazement and give me a smirk before throwing your arms around my neck. When we sing Share the Darkness or the Rattlin’ Bog together at night before bed.
You’ve gone from an adorable baby to a cute toddler to a perfect little boy. It’s the greatest honor of my life to be your dad, kiddo. I’m not the best father in the world, but no one is prouder of a kid than I am of you. Happy birthday pal.