Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Dear Benjamin,

You are four-years-old today. To you, four means it is time for you to go to big boy school with NeeNee. You are beyond excited at the thought of getting to ride the BUS (all caps because I bet you shout that word in your brain). You talk about going to school and how there is a playground, and there is lunch time, and nap time, and snack time. When we pass your soon-to-be school, you say, “Hi, my new school! I see you soon!”

Being three was tough on you. I think this might have been your hardest year yet. You still want to be a baby, but we had better not dare call you a baby. You want me to carry you all over the place, and you say, “But it’s hard for me!” when we tell you to finish your dinner (Dear God, Benjamin, we’ve all been here for 30 minutes and you’re three bites into your meal). But you want to brush your own teeth, buckle your own seat belt, set the alarm, and make all of your own decisions. Your current obsessions haven’t varied much this year: trains, garbage trucks, fire trucks, ambliances (sic), construction sites, and Mama. If it’s a truck and makes noise, you want to drive it. If it’s a train, you want to ride it. If it’s something an adult has to help you with, you want Mama. If I’m not around, you’ll settle for someone else, but Lord help us if Daddy dares to do something for you when I’m home.

You are spoiled rotten and no matter what we try to do to break it, you act as though everything you want is a NEED and that we ought to provide it immediately. If the answer is “No”, you always have an alternative way to express your want, and are just sure that it’s going to work that time. You are a negotiator. I’m convinced you’ll be a lawyer; your daddy says you’re gunning to be a used car salesman. When you interrupt us, you always say, “But I have something to tell you!” and repeat that phrase ad nauseam until we listen. You have this ear-splitting screech you employ when Anthony has something you want, and you will cry just to hear yourself cry.

On the flip side, you are one of the sweetest little boys I know. You are good with “Please” and “Thank you”. You have a smile and this little head tilt that are so adorable…it makes it hard to say “No” even when I know I ought to. Maybe this is why you’re spoiled?  When you give hugs and kisses, the recipient is left with no doubt as to your sincerity and affection. You love to be read to, sung to, and tickled. You think it’s hilarious that Daddy will grab you, and bump your head against the ceiling in the kitchen: “Mommy! I made a hole in your ceiling!” Another favorite is snuggling on the sofa, sipping your morning orange juice while I drink my coffee, watching cartoons. That is one of the best parts of my day. We may only get 30 minutes together, but it’s one of the best moments of my morning.

You look up to NeeNee and think he has hung the moon. You are so much smarter than you ought to be because you try so hard to keep up with him. You want to put your hands on everything of his. This drives NeeNee nuts, but he will usually let you try whatever it is you want. He loves to teach you and show you and guide you. You lucked out on having him for your big brother.

We have had to stop spelling words or speaking cryptically around you. Even if we think you aren’t listening, you are. And you repeat or interpret the things we say with an accuracy that is astounding. Your comprehension of your surroundings amazes me.

You spell your first name in large, uneven block letters: B-E-N and then say, “B-E-N spells Benjamin!” You can write your middle name, too: P-A-U-L, but the A always looks huge compared to the other letters, and you write the L backwards with a sly glance at me because you KNOW it’s backwards and are just doing it to hear me say something about it. Our last name presents a bit more of a challenge and the two Ss come out looking more like awkward, backwards Zs.

I don’t think I will ever be able to tell you how much I love you. You have changed my life, and have made me a better person. You have shown me that mothering is different for each child, but that it’s OK to customize my mothering and discipline to your personality. You aren’t the same person as your brother, and shouldn’t be treated the same way. You are BENJAMIN and I love every single thing about YOU.



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