Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Happy Birthday, Colin.

Dear Colin,

Last Sunday you turned two. We celebrated by eating bratwurst and cake and ice cream. You (tried to) blow out candles. You talked on the phone with your grandparents. There were presents and party hats and noisemakers. I think you had a pretty good day.

When you were born, I worried so much that you would resent being the little brother. I worried that you would get less of my time, that you'd be the pitiful younger child, stuck getting in and out of the car on the way to and from big brother's school and play dates.  In a way, you are stuck in the middle of things. Some mornings I have to wake you up and drag you out of bed just so I can drop Oliver off at school on time. At the playground you're often left watching from the sidelines while Oliver attempts dangerous maneuvers on the fireman's pole or the giant slide or some other dangerous thing that only a 4 year old could do. You are constantly being told, "You're not old enough yet." "That's for older kids." "You can do that when you're bigger."

I worried so much that you would feel stuck in Oliver's shadow, but you refuse to see it like that. You illuminate Oliver's shadow in such a way that you're not really in his shadow anymore. You're your own light. You're still the little brother, but you own that role with such ease that it seems more like a benefit than a curse.

While we're waiting to pick up Oliver, you smile and wave to the other parents without fail. They're always saying things like, "Is he always so happy?" or "He's so smiley!" or "What a friendly guy!"

And you are.

You're able to roll with the punches. You make lemons out of lemonade. When you come up against something that a "little guy" can't do, you keep trying and trying and trying. Its through your own persistence that you can open locked doors, buckle your car seat, use a pair of scissors, and zip up your coat. When something is taken away from you, your first reaction isn't apathy or despair but rather to start devising a plan. You think, how am I going to get that back? How does this work? What happens if I do this?

Your self confidence is one of the things that draws people to you. It's easy to love somebody who is so completely determined and firm in the belief that things will just somehow work out. It's easy to be around somebody who can fall on his face and get up with a smile to try again. It's easy to laugh with somebody who is able to laugh at himself.

As you grow, I think that your determined, positive attitude will be your greatest asset. If you want something done, you won't wait around for somebody else to do it for you. You won't sweat the daily minutia that brings people down. You won't be afraid to try and fail at something 50 times because you know that on the 51st time it just might work.

This year, I want to give you the space for all of these trials and failures and successes. I want to practice the patience and restraint that it takes for me to stand encouragingly by your side as you go through those 50 painful failures that come before your great, spectacular success.

You've known all along that you can do it, and now I see that you can too. You have endless potential. I can't wait to see what the next year brings for you. You are so loved.

Happy Birthday, Colin.

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