William Thomas (or “William Tommy,” as you like to say), I cannot believe that another year has gone by, that your hair managed to grow longer and curlier, your smile is even wider, your personality happier, and you are now three years old. When I ask you, “How old are you?” you smile and say “THREEEEE!” You even try to put up three fingers—we’re still working on that.
This last year presented quite a few obstacles. We experienced our ups, our downs, our in betweens. Mostly, this last year presented questions. Questions about your development, about your abilities, about your knowledge and understanding, and, inevitably, about my parenting skills. I’ve watched you struggle and overcome in speech therapy sessions. I’ve listened intently and written down every new word I heard you pronounce perfectly, even when there weren’t many. I’ve read the early adjusting reports and now the daily positive reports from your preschool, Longleaf, where you love to go and you’ve begun to thrive and flourish. I’ve watched you climb and run at Monkey Bizness and Gymboree and in our backyard. I’ve stood beside you while you mastered a new puzzle or stacked boxes and blocks higher than every before. I sat next to you at your first dentist appointment–you did great! I recorded you singing “Jake and the Neverland Pirates–and meeee!” Just this month, I heard you say “Wuv you” for real. For the first real time. Last week, I held your hands in a bounce house while you looked up at me, bent your knees, and yelled “Jump!” You can jump, Will! And I’m so very proud. I’ve been patient and waited until you were ready, and all of a sudden, you are potty trained, even waking me up at 3:30 in the morning because you have to go.
You are SUCH a big boy. And no matter the frustrations we’ve faced, no matter the walls you still have to climb over, no matter the days I get stressed or worried, one thing remains absolutely the same about you since the very day I met you:
You are happy.
Before you even squeeze your tired eyes open in the dim light of your bedroom every morning, you smile. For so many reasons—because I roll the car windows down, or because the dog is running in circles, or because I let you wear my big black and white polka dotted sunglasses, or because Gil says something funny on Bubble Guppies, or because I find you hiding under the table or inside the tunnel or behind the closet doors—you laugh your beautiful laugh and flash your perfect white smile with the pointiest canine teeth. And all is right with the world.
You are happy.
In the last year, your Daddy and I experienced so many great days with you. We took you to see the Rays win at Tropicana Field, and you walked around the stadium and got your first baseball card with your picture on it! I cannot wait to take you again this year, and next year, and the year after that and watch you get taller and taller in each baseball card. We took you to Disney World (again) and had an even better time than the first! You loved the night parade and watched it in your jammies :) We traveled with KK, Uncle TJ, and Mandy on a cruise to the Bahamas! You left the country for the first time! You were the best behaved child who has ever cruised in the history of the world, and you loved the food, the water rides, running around on top of the ship on the mini golf course, and just being with us.
Daddy still calls you Buddy. I still call you Prince. And that’s really what you are to us. Daddy loves teaching you how to throw a basketball into the hoop and hit a golf ball. He takes you grocery shopping every weekend and you two bond like the best of friends.
You are my prince charming. I love taking you to the park and on walks around the neighborhood because you just adore being outside in nature. You started requesting to go on walks and you always want to include your puppy, Esme. This year, you learned to hold her leash and walk her like a big boy.
You point out flowers and look up at the birds and everything you notice is so new and so beautiful. You look into my eyes and push my nose into your eye socket like your weirdo Uncle TJ used to do and you say “wuv you” and everything about you is just so prince-like. You have my whole heart.
Recently, you’ve begun to develop more preferences and you’ve begun to communicate your wants and needs much better than before. You point more, you identify objects more, you ask for “more milk please” and your little phrases “nan-baba” for “banana” and “hank you” and “ya welcome” are absolute music to my ears. However, your growth has also come with a few somersaults and bangs on the bedroom window when you should be sleeping (where do you get this endless energy?!), pouty faces, stomping of the feet, and a couple swats at Mommy’s or Daddy’s or Abuela’s face when you didn’t get your way. Thankfully, these moments are short-lived and overshadowed by your gentle, easygoing spirit.
Your teacher at Longleaf is proud of you. She takes pictures of you playing peekaboo behind the tree at the playground to show me. Your speech therapist is amazed at how many words you can say and how you belly laugh when she pretends her T-rex is going to eat your arm.
You are happy.
You bring joy to my life and to every situation, and that is such a rare quality in such a flawed, violent world. You are sunshine and you are flowers blooming. It is so fitting that your birthday is in the spring because your personality truly is life itself. You are new every day. Your spirit is warm on the coldest day and I cannot say enough about how highly I think of you, how deeply I love you, how powerfully you have changed me, and how strongly I believe that your future will be nothing less than magical.
I leave you with one little piece of advice:
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” -Roald Dahl
Here’s to another year of happy, William. Another year of silly, magical, playful smiles and so much happy. Happy 3rd birthday, sweet prince.
I love you,