You just turned five.
Every day that passes makes it harder and harder for me to admit that you are growing up. You rode a bike for the first time the other day and I expected that you would need me to follow along side of you, but you just pedaled ahead like a seasoned pro. Luckily for me, the pride over powered the thoughts of not being needed.
Even with your newfound independence, there are still reminders that you are my little boy. Someday you will understand how much it means to your Dad when we are just snuggling on the couch together, watching TV. I would never wish an injury upon you but having the power to make your pain go away just by kissing it better makes me feel like Superman. I also realize that my superhero time is running short.
The way you love your sister makes my heart hurt in a totally amazing kind of way. I had no idea that a child of only five years old could be that much in love with anything, but you prove it more with each passing day.
I wanted to share a few things with you about life, our relationship and the way that you probably perceive me to be, as your father. They aren’t form fitting for everyone but it is the way I feel and I think it’s important for you to know about. I’m sure I will be adding to this list as the years pass but this is what I have for now.
• When I say no to you, I really want to say yes a lot of the time. It hurts my feelings to know that I am hurting yours, but my job as your father is to do what I feel is best for you. So when I say that you can’t play Skylanders after dinner, it’s not because you did anything wrong, it’s just that I want to spend more quality time with you before bed time.
• I may act all cool, collected and sometimes even nonchalant when you fall off your bike, or the time you cut your eye on the dinner table, but inside I am a raging ball of emotional wreckage. I want you to learn about toughness but it takes every bit of my energy to stay calm myself.
• I cried to myself after dropping you off at your first day of school. The message here is that it is okay to cry, whether it is for happy or sad reasons. Being vulnerable does not make you less of a man, it just makes you human.
• No matter what age you are when you read this, do not bottle up depression or anxiety. I did this and it cost me the first year of your life. Please promise me you will talk to someone, whether it be myself, your mother, a friend or professional. You’ll be happy you did.
• I may not always say it but I am always proud of you, no matter what you do. I’m not supposed to over praise you so you’ll learn to want more from yourself but I am happy with you just the way you are.
• Your Mother is the best thing to happen to all of us. I know you don’t like the day care because you have to share your toys, time and family but she is doing it with your best interests in mind and I know someday you will understand how lucky you were. Without your Mom, we would be a lot less clothed, fed and taken care of. So after you read this, give her a big hug for me and then do the same for your wife.
• Family always comes first. I don’t care what happens between now and whatever point you are at while reading this, nothing is more important than family. Write this down somewhere and keep it with you always.
The point of this letter is that I love you and your sister more than I ever thought I was capable of loving anything. There are no words to describe how proud I am of you and everything you have and will continue to accomplish. You may be another year older and you may not need me as much as you did last year, but I will never stop being there for you.
Your Dad had to fight off a few tears while writing this one and I have never felt like more of a man. Happy Birthday, kid. Here’s to many more!