Last year, you didn’t just “turn” five.
You knocked five out of the park.
You lived out your fifth year with gusto and a BIG BOOMING VOICE and a motor that just wouldn’t quit. You got up without fail every morning between five and six am (which I didn’t really mind because you’d come snuggle in between your father and me for the next hour) and you powered through the day until bedtime, when you would whine and complain about going to sleep and then promptly pass out as soon as I turned off the lights.
When you turned five, we still had a few more months to go with just the two of us while your sister was at school, and I made the most of them. We took walks in the park, went to the zoo, played with your Imaginext toys and did a whole lot of snuggling. Right now, you’re at school with your sister on a day that you would have been home with me last year and I miss you, Bruiser. I really, really do.
A few months after you turned five, you became a preschool “Gradulate,” according to you, and you ordered us all to tell you “Gradulations.” You also told us you wanted to be a bounty hunter when you grew up. (We’ll see about that.)
You loved preschool, but you were definitely looking forward to FINALLY joining your sister in elementary school. There would be no redshirting for you!
What followed was one of the craziest springs and summers of any of our lives.
We made your very first pilgrimage to Disney World, which I will never, ever forget. We stayed in a pirate room, which you and your sister absolutely loved, spent lots of time swimming in the elaborate resort pool, went to the parks, dined at lots of really fun Disney restaurants, and basically had the time of our lives. Seriously. That trip was worth every penny.
We also spent a week at the beach. Despite a tropical storm that kept things overcast and cool for most of the week, you and your sister absolutely LOVED the trip, mostly because we signed you up for the a kids camp a few mornings that week and also because the pool had its own “lazy river,” which you both made us take you around and around in for HOURS. You never got tired of that lazy river, and you can’t wait to go back this summer!
Those were the good parts of your summer. The bad parts were that I was traveling a lot for work… and in June, your Nana Jean unexpectedly died. You took both of these things fairly well. I was so grateful that you and your sister have a firm grounding in faith, because you both easily accepted the idea that Nana Jean had gone to heaven. Having to explain death to a five-year-old has got to be one of the hardest things I’ll ever do. I’m glad we got through it together.
Before we knew it, it was time for your first day of kindergarten. You weren’t certain you wanted to stay there at first, but then you looked around the room and realized 4 classmates from preschool were in there with you. From that point on, it was go time. Your teacher is absolutely amazing, you love going to school each day, and I can’t even BELIEVE all that you’ve learned. You can read now, you can add, subtract and multiply, you know all kinds of interesting facts about magnets and planets and seeds and animals. Your teacher has given you a true gift- You know at five that learning can be fun. That’s priceless, and it’s something I hope you never forget.
At five, you were our creative genius. You covered the walls of your room with your drawings, made and sold books to your neighbors, and more afternoons than not, you came home from school and immediately started coloring, cutting, and gluing together whatever you could find.
At five, you learned to swim. We’re still working on getting you all the way across the pool, but I have no doubt that if you fell in, you could save yourself, and that’s what’s most important to me right now.
At five, you lost your two bottom teeth. It was just a few weeks before Christmas and we quickly taught you the words to “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth.” You loved singing it, and we would all laugh and laugh.
At five, you got your first dog. Dottie. You hug her at least 20 times a day. I’m pretty sure she thinks you’re her big brother.
At five, you went on field trips, rode your bike on the new greenway, rode a pony by yourself for the first time, played and played and played, looked at a spider under a microscope, rode on a train, banged on a piano every single time you came across one, and dressed as Captain America for Halloween (and playtime. And breakfast. And after school.).
Being five was exhausting!
You made lots of new friends when you were five. You went to playdates and parties and you even went on your first sleepover. I was shocked and a little bit sad that you made it all the way through the night without wanting to come home.
But your very best friend was still your sister. You think Punky is the coolest kid on the planet, and even though you fight like cats and dogs sometimes, you have an incredibly strong and yet tender bond with her that I never had with my own brother. The two of you have the kind of sibling relationship I always wanted, and it gives me peace in my heart.
When you began your fifth year, you were still my baby. You still came and got in bed with me each morning, grinning with joy as I kissed your cheeks. You still wailed without shame when you were angry or hurt or scared. But somewhere along the way, you started growing up. You started caring about what other kids thought of you. You started sucking it up when you skinned your knee instead of bawling (unless I was the only one around, and then you let me hold you and sing to you to make it all better). You started balking at being called “cute” and insisted that we use “handsome” to describe you instead.
You started showing an interest in sports, and you joined a soccer team. You’re still more excited about the sno-cone truck beside the fields than the game itself, but that’s okay. We’re working on it.
In short, you were ready to turn six.
Or at least, you were until the night before your sixth birthday.
That night as I tucked you in, I said a special prayer for you. “God, thank you so much for Bruiser and his fifth year,” I said. “He was such a wonderful five-year-old, and I can’t believe all that he accomplished while he was five. He means so much to me, and I thank you for giving me such a great fifth year with my son. I love him with all my heart.”
When I finished, I opened my eyes to find you sniffling.
“What’s wrong, Bruiser?” I asked, alarmed.
“I don’t think I want to turn six anymore,” you said. “I’m just going to miss five SO MUCH!” You began sobbing. Dennis came in and we both did our best to reassure you that your sixth year would be just as fun as your fifth one. Still unconvinced, you finally fell asleep.
The next morning, you bounced into our room at 6:30 am.
“I’M ALREADY SIX YEARS OLD!” you shouted, thrilled with yourself.
Five was old news.
You are obsessed with numbers and the time and date. You love building and drawing and creating. You are starting to think a lot about your spirituality and talking about wanting to be baptized, which blows our minds. You have a temper, and it’s all we can do to keep stern faces when you stomp off to your room and shout “NNNNNEVER!!” before shutting your door as loudly as you dare. You shower me every single day with hugs and kisses and whispers of how much you love your “best mommy.” You let your whole family know that you love us more than anything in the world.
You are six. And when I look at you, my heart feels like it’s going to burst with joy.
I love you, Bruiser, and I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for you.