Oh my independent one,
Today, you are seven years old.
It seems like only yesterday that when you cried, felt overtired, or just woke up from a long sleep, I could snuggle you and squeeze you and comfort you. But it wasn’t yesterday. It’s been quite a long time—except when you had the flu, of course—since you’ve needed Mommy to soothe you or baby you. Last year at this time, I had a kind-of-sort-of big boy finishing kindergarten. This year, there is no denying your lack of babyhood. You are my tall, skinny first grade boy and every day, more and more, I am inspired by the independent person you are becoming.
One of my favorite memories in your year as a six-year-old happened during our Eastern Caribbean cruise last summer. Daddy, you, and I boarded Harmony of the Seas to visit St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, and Haiti. It wasn’t your first cruise, but it was your longest and you enjoyed every single second of it. You got to ride on a yacht, swim in the ocean, watch airplanes fly overhead, and even meet your greatgrandfather for the first time. But secretly, those weren’t Mommy’s favorite moments. While Daddy went off to play one day, you and I spent some time together, and the most precious moment for me was when you and I relaxed in the infinity spa. You kneeled on the step in that hot tub with your elbows over the edge, looking out at the horizon like the world and everything in it belonged just to you. I love watching you watch everything else—seeing the world through your eyes is a beautiful thing, and I think if a genie granted me one wish, I would wish to take a stroll through your inquisitive little brain to hear your thoughts about what you see.
On the cruise, every night, we ate dinner and then walked around the ship. You loved riding the elephant on the carousel and playing the claw game in the arcade. As a matter of fact, that cruise ship was where you first found your love of “pluppy duckies.” The claw machine company says Plucky Duckies, but call it what you will. We spent months finding claw machines in every mall and arcade we visited and Santa Claus brought you your very own set of multicolored pluppy duckies and your very own claw machine! I’m always impressed at how well you can capture the toys!
Just like every year, this last year brought some changes. In October, we realized you were very unhappy in your school, and so Mommy and Daddy found you a new school. Your entire schedule changed—Abuela no longer drove you to school, we had to leave much earlier, you met new teachers and new students and new therapies—but you rolled with it, like you always do. I know that unexpected changes to routine can be anxiety-inducing, but you have embraced your new school and our new normal. You are my DJ on the long drive in the morning and afternoon, telling me which songs to play: Sia’s “Chandelier,” Clapton’s “Layla,” Chris Brown’s “Forever,” Ed Sheeran’s “Don’t” and “Sing,” Gorillaz “Feel Good,” Pink’s “Raise Your Glass,” Coldplay’s “I Want Something Just Like This” and “Adventures of a Lifetime.”
Some of the things from this year that I never want to forget:
-You carrying Mickey Mouse every place we go and filling your bed with all of your friends before you go to sleep.
-The way you pretend your wooden trains and toys are rides from Disney World: Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Tower of Terror.
-Your constant whistling, something nobody taught you but you do so well.
-How if you hurt yourself, you ask me for a “feel better” and take the Band-Aid I give you to put on top of your boo-boo.
-The way you can spot a Jeep across the parking lot, and when we’re driving, you say, “Hi Jeep, bye Jeep!”
-Your communication skills and how hard you to try to be heard. This year, you finally started commenting on things. It is music to my ears to hear you step in the tub and say “It’s too hot” or refuse to go down a slide at the playground because “It’s wet!”
-Your imaginary play. With Ms. Amanda, your speech therapist, you like to play with the baby doll and put her in the swing, on the potty, and tuck her into bed.
-Your face when you rode the Harry Potter Hogwarts Express train at Universal Studios with Daddy, Mommy, and KK.
-How when I needed my nails fixed recently, I debated stopping at the salon with you, but figured for the first time, I would give it a try. You amazed me and sat perfectly still with your Mickeys on your lap. Another client complimented your good behavior. We live in a difficult world that isn’t always kind to people who are different. I know that sometimes, you have been mistreated for your struggles and this time, a stranger commented on what a good boy you are. I’m so proud of how far you’ve come! I know you’re special, but it means a lot to know others see it, too.
-The way you lock the door when you use the bathroom because apparently at almost seven years old, you require extreme privacy.
-Your funny little missing front tooth, just a few days before your birthday, as if I needed another reminder of you growing up.
This year, you didn’t ask for much for your birthday. You wanted to go bowling, eat pizza, and have a “didna turtles cake.” I’m not a big Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan, but when I was planning to buy you a t-shirt to match the theme, I asked your daddy which turtle you would be. Without missing a beat, he said, “Michelangelo.” Why? Because pizza. Because fun.
There is a lot of fun left to be had, sweet William. In a few weeks, we will be embarking on a new adventure and moving into our new home. You’ll not only have a big house and room to call your own, but for the first time, you’ll have your own pool. We have a nice big fence around our yard so you can swim and play and make all the noise you want while you splash with Daddy and me.
Our purpose in life is to keep you safe, healthy, and happy. All we want is to make memories with you and for you to know that you are so loved.
So eat your pizza, my Michelangelo. Have your fun. You deserve it, today and always. Let’s make lucky #7 the best year yet!