My sweet little boy,
There are not many years left for me to call you that. You've grown up so much, even between last year and this.
I can't believe it's been five years since your whirlwind entrance into the world. Five years since I first held you in my arms. Five years since I knew your name, and your favorite position in my womb, but virtually nothing else about you.
Here at 5, you're a boy now, and really not a baby anymore. You've grown in leaps and bounds this year. You're pretty much out of your toddler funk, and while you still argue my ears off and test all my boundaries, you're so much more mature about things. You listen to reason, most of the time, and you recognize when you're being a punk. You apologize to me and to others without prompting. You want to act grown-up and you want the responsibilities and privileges that come with being a bit more mature.
You thrive on being treated like a big boy, or better yet, like a man. You take the trash out for me whenever it's needed, lugging the huge bag down the stairs and out the garage door and up into the trash can that you can still barely reach. You strut when you do it. You jump at the chance to build things, or use tools, or take some responsibility that marks you as older and capable and trustworthy. You still draw on the walls "by accident" and you still can't remember to flush the toilet and you have a terrible habit of playing with soap in the sink, but give you a big-boy job and you will ace it, every time.
Your questions get bigger and harder every day. You've started talking this year about physical defects and deformities and wondering why God made people with aspects that don't work. You ask about miscarriages and stillbirths and babies who can't survive because of severe birth defects. I didn't think I'd be having these conversations with a preschooler. I don't know what to tell you, sometimes. I thought it would be a long time before you learned I don't have all the answers, before you asked questions that will likely stay with you the rest of your life. Yet, surprisingly, your highly rational mind is okay with the uncertainty. You're okay with hearing that I don't know. You're okay with learning that the limits are tentative and floating, not hard and fast like you need. This boggles me, but I'll take it as the grace of God, and as proof that He is guiding your heart, and is capable of walking you through these difficult places and taking care of your vulnerabilities.
Your faith is so very strong, and so real and alive. You trust in God the way you trust in your dad and me. You don't doubt our love, and you're not very put off by our disapproval. You take forgiveness for granted and weather irritation and anger, secure in the knowledge that we've always loved you and always will. You've never doubted God's personal love for you, and with that, you can accept that sometimes he says no, and sometimes he's unhappy with your choices. You've never seen contradiction there. You listen to passages in the Bible you don't understand, and you laugh, or scowl, and say, "Why did Jesus say that?" And it's never the ones I have an answer for, it's always the ones I was hoping would go over your head. And when I tell you I don't know, you shrug, and write it off as the personal quirks of someone you love and someone who loves you. You don't let it shake your faith. And this floors me. I wish I knew how to trust like that.
You told me recently that God gave you the "special power" of loving everyone you know. Truer words never spoken, P. I've never known anyone whose heart is so open, who is so willing to share and so free of jealousy. You rejoice in others' happiness as if it was your own. You delight in others' birthdays, surprises, and accomplishments. You laugh with glee when I buy a giant bag of Costco string cheese--a bag you'll never touch, but which will make Sylvia so happy. You save the biggest peach for me, always, never mind that you love them almost as much as I do. You do all this without being asked or prompted. You've always been this way, and a part of me has waited for you to grow out of it, to develop the normal territorial tendencies of toddlers, but you never have. The bigger you get, the bigger your heart gets. You have your faults, P, and I'll be the first to admit it, but there's nothing petty or stingy about you at all.
You remain truthful and honest, and with very little shame about being wrong. You still find the need to pick at the fine print of everything I say, all the time. You know all my buttons, and how to wear quietly away at them until I don't know what to do with you anymore. You still need hard and fast limits, and you still disobey for no other reason than to learn where the boundaries are. So much of the parenting advice I see doesn't work for you. It's taken me five years to figure out how different you can be from other children, and I'm sure I'll keep figuring this out for as long as I know you. Sometimes we clash, you and I. My patience irritates you. You don't like second chances, and you don't perceive grace as love. You'd rather be punished and forgiven than to have allowances made for you. You respond better, and are safer and more secure, with your dad's quicker temper and harsher corrections. I don't understand this, and it goes against my nature and against the way most children are. But it's you, P, and it's you I'm raising, not a textbook child. We'll figure this out, and when we don't, we'll love and forgive each other all the same.
You still snuggle up with me every morning, your head on my neck and your legs wrapped around mine. You never were a snuggly baby, and you're never content to sit and snuggle for long--even in your tired morning daze you're wiggling and twisting and kneading me with your giant feet and talking a mile a minute. But I'll take it, P, because it's you. You give your love so generously, even though it comes with dirt and broken things and non-stop conversation. You never hold back. You're so completely okay with allowing others to interrupt your life, and in return, shamelessly interrupt theirs.
You still love strangers as much as you ever have. You'll sit out in our front yard and yell out greetings at mountain bikers. I let you have your space, like I always have, but I'm always listening, and your conversations crack me up. You compare outfits and water bottles and are always a bit confused when the bikers don't stop and talk with you for a long time. You pick up on social cues quickly and you talk to adults in their language. And when they laugh at your tiny little voice saying things like, "You have a great day now!" you're perplexed at why they think it's funny. You make friends easily and will talk to anyone. You have very little tolerance for badly behaved toddlers or kids being mean, but other than that, you'll play with anyone, anywhere, any game. You still adore babies and will put up with anything from them. You're deeply envious of large families and wish you had been born a twin.
You've gotten so much bolder this year. You're still careful and cautious, and you'll only try things you're sure you can do. But your confidence is growing, and you're more ambitious with what you try. You fall more, and let yourself get hurt. You have an element of macho now that you haven't really had before. You don't want to cry when you're hurt, you want to get back up and try it again. You're proud of your scars and bruises and would rather brag about them, and swagger a little, than let yourself be comforted and pitied. This is so new for you, and it makes you seem so much more grown up. Your hands and feet are enormous and you're all sinews and muscles and suntanned skin.
You're starting kindergarten this fall, and you're so very ready. You thrive on the structure and routine of school, and you miss seeing your friends daily. You're already thinking about math on a level way above your years, and you're figuring out reading. You have a hard time producing anything--you won't draw unless it's perfect or unless you have a template. You can trace letters better than any kindergartner I know, but you refuse to write most of them on your own. I can't wait to see you grow this year, to watch your mind expand and to see you burrow into a little social circle of your own. You miss your friends from last year so much. I hope you're able to replace them and more.
I love you so much, my Peregrine. Five years ago, I didn't know what I was in for, or the sheer force of personality about to invade every corner of my life. I can't say I was unprepared to be a parent, or even to be your parent, because I've been parenting, in one way or another, since I was very small. But you've still managed to surprise me. You've taken some confidence, but you've given much more. You're the gift God gave me, five years ago, and I'm so very glad he chose me to have you, and chose you to give to me. I am so very honored to be your mama, and I look forward to growing alongside you, to guiding and training and discovering you, over the next season of our lives together.
Here's to five years down and many, many more to go. Here's to you, my sweet Peregrine, to your loving heart, your sharp mind, your crazy little body, and your pilgriming soul. I've always loved you, and I always will.