Sunday, February 16, 2014

Dear Tate,

My Tate, you're five today.  Five years old.  Somehow it sounds so very much older and bigger than four.  I know in my mind that it's still just one year of time.  The same year that turned you from three to four, but my heart feels like five is momentous.  No longer a little kid.  You're a boy.  A tall, handsome, kind, funny, silly little boy.  Growing up and becoming more aware of the world around you and going to kindergarten in just a few months.  Yikes.

You've been in your second year of preschool this year and while the teachers and structure took some getting used to, you're doing great now. You have a few cute little friends and you always come out talking about your favorite time of preschool, when you got to play outside with your friends.  You have an astounding imagination, as you always have, and your play time revolves around whatever story we've read or movie we've seen lately.  I love how you take your own spin on characters or situations you're familiar with just to see how they play out.  "Mom, I'll be C3PO and you be Wendy from Peter Pan, okay?" or "Mom, you be Anna from Frozen and I'll be Bolt, okay?"  Then you proceed to tell me the scenario in which those two characters would come across each other and we have to play it out.

You love to play outside.  We are lucky living in this beautiful place where we have parks nearby and can get out to play on them most of the time.  Even in the winter there are breaks from the cold when we get to go play outside.  You played on a soccer league last spring and then again in the fall with your dad as coach.  It didn't appear to be your passion but you seemed to really enjoy being outside and running around with friends.  And you loved that your shin guards made you look "just like a storm trooper".  So there's that.

You are a little fish.  You finished a few more sessions of swimming lessons this summer and while actually staying on top of the water still doesn't come naturally to you, you're getting incredibly brave and LOVE being in the water.  You've always liked swimming but this year you spend way more time underneath the surface.  It kind of scares your dad and I sometimes when we don't see you surface for a while even when we know you can touch.  You have your favorite Buzz Lightyear goggles and you are so excited about swimming around and being able to see underwater.  It's like magic to you and so fun for us to watch.

You just started gymnastics a couple of weeks ago.  Primarily because some of your friends take gymnastics so you've been to birthday parties there and we thought it would be something fun to do since it's too cold most days to play outside.  You've loved it so far.  You try hard, listen to your teachers, and leave exhausted.  I'm a very proud mama watching you learn something I can't teach you from someone other than me.  There's something so wonderful about watching you be a good student.

You love everything Disney.  There may have been a teensy bit of brainwashing involved there.  You love Disneyland, watching the rides on youtube, talking about our trip, and obviously watching the movies.  We've had a couple of "Tate Dates" to plays this year and you've seemed to really enjoy those too.  We went to Peter Pan and Mary Poppins.  It's fun once in a while to have some time alone with you.

You're still a picky eater.  Your favorite stand-by food and the food you will always order at restaurants when we go out is Mac and Cheese.  Every time.  Thank heavens for our morning smoothies because there is no way we'd get any fruit or veggies in you without them!  I usually cater to what you'll eat to some degree at breakfast and lunch because I know that come dinner time, you're probably going to choose to go without.

You're a stinkin' smart boy.  But that's nothing new.  You have an amazing memory and you pick new things up pretty quickly.  You can watch a movie once and have a collection of quotes you thought were funny that you start incorporating into your daily language.  Just like your Daddy.  We've started having little reading practices every other day while Finn is napping.  It's not your favorite time of day but once we get started you don't complain too much.  You're getting a pretty good collection of sight words under your belt and are reading some little books fairly comfortably...or maybe you've memorized them all...that's a possibility too.

You're becoming more compassionate and thoughtful this year. You seem to be more aware of what's going on around you and how you fit in.  Finny was jumping on the bed last week and fell and split his head open on the headboard.  Nana was here while we ran Finn to the hospital.  When we got back you were so concerned about him.  Even though you'd been in bed for over an hour, you stayed awake and asked if you could go give Finn a hug.  When we got back in to bed you were full of questions about the hospital, the doctors, the stitches.  Did they hurt?  Did Finn cry?  And when you had asked all your questions you sat there in silence for a minute.  Then you said, "Mom, I changed my mind.  I want to be a doctor for kids when I grow up."  I thought that was so sweet and indicative of how your mind and heart work right now.

You are a wonderful big brother.  Little Finn adores you and copies absolutely everything you say and do.  I love the look in his eyes when you do something silly and he laughs at you.  He looks at you like you hung the moon in the sky just for him.  You quote movies, so he quotes movies.  You love Star Wars so he loves Star Wars.  He adores you, Tate, and you adore him right back.  Right now you're the best of buddies.  Occasionally he gets in an ornery mood and decides to terrorize you.  Since he's Finn, he resorts to physical intimidation.  He's just a physical little guy.  And you, you sweet little kid, you run away crying because it would never occur to you to take him down or hit him back.  But for the most part, you two play so well together.  One of my most precious joys as your mother is watching the two of you play together and seeing how much you love each other.  You are lucky to have each other and I hope you never forget that.

You know who else you're lucky to have?  Your Daddy.  You two boys love your Dad.  Every day when he gets home from work we hide...pretty much every time it's under the dining room table.  And Dad pretends to find us there...again.  Then we all get out and give him hugs.  He's the best Dad in the world.  He works hard all day and then comes home excited to see you boys and ready to wrestle, read, go swimming, or walk to a park with us.  Sometimes on Fridays when Dad has half days he surprises you by picking you up from school and taking you to a movie with him.  You love that.  Lately, because of my new crazy calling, your dad takes over at night while I go do YW stuff.  It's really telling that not having me around so much of the time hasn't thrown you and Finn at all because your Dad has totally got it. He tries hard to be the best Daddy for you and your brother.  I know you'll keep getting closer and closer as you get older.  He wouldn't have it any other way.

You're a very affectionate boy, as you've always been.  You still let me snuggle you when we watch a movie and at bed time after I sing and turn out the light you ask, almost every night, "Mom, would you snuggle me for a couple of minutes?"  How can I say, "no" to that?  You are quick to hug me when I ask for a hug and quick to hug your baby brother when he is upset or hurt too.  You are a very loving kid and will make some lucky girl a very attentive, sweet husband some day...if I ever let you date.

Oh my Tate, this motherhood thing is so bittersweet.  Every new thing you learn and accomplish makes me almost laughably proud of you.  I wish I could record my heartbeat or the way my face absolutely beams when you kick the soccer ball in your game or befriend a lonely boy in class or say your scripture in primary or do a somersault in gymnastics.  And at the same time, every new thing you learn and accomplish is one more tiny step you take in becoming your own brilliant little independent person and that comes with needing your momma a little bit less...or at least a little bit differently than you did before.

I've said it before and maybe it merits saying this once a year on your birthday, you and me, we have a special thing going on on this day of yours.  Your birthday isn't just the day you arrived on this earth, it's the day you made me a mama.  My most favorite job, favorite role, favorite most wonderful thing I've ever done.  Unfortunately for you,  being the first means you get the most uptight, anxious version of mama me.  You're my first baby, first preschooler, soon you'll be my first kindergartener and my first everything else for the rest of your life.  You get to pave the way for the rest of the Makechnie kiddos and your Dad and I get to figure out this parenting game as you go.  We're doing our best to be everything you need.  We pray every night for help from Heavenly Father.  Help taking care of you, raising you, guiding you to be the boy He needs you to be.  And you, little kiddo, are the most perfect first boy we could ask for.  You are a genuinely kind, caring boy.  You feel badly when you disappoint us and you try your best not to.  You want to please your teachers at school and in church and you feel badly if you every get in a little bit of trouble.  You love your friends and love being around other kids.  You love going to the park or zoo with Finn and I, but you're both happiest when you have a play date with other kids.
Tate, you're a good soul.  I'm so glad I get to be your Mom.  I love you so much my first little boy.
The world is yours.