On being thirty-nine

Dear Jester,

I’d say that’s a funny way to start a letter to myself but we all know that it fits.

What an adventure it has been, yes?  Thirty-nine years full of adventures.  Far too many to list out here so perhaps we should just focus on the last little bit.  Perhaps, perhaps.  Though I doubt I can say much now that doesn’t relate to something that came before.  We all know that fits as well.

It’s an interesting thing to reflect on the passage of time, to admire the triumphs over the adventures that went sideways and to bask in the remaining glow of those that went better than expected.  I’ve done far more than I thought I would by this age and far less at the same time.  That’s part of the hypocrisy that is at my core.  Hypocrisy isn’t exactly the right word but it harkens to something I think about a lot.

When I was young I assumed there would be a point when I would stop being a child and would be an adult.  It would be a clear delineation.  One or the other.  And I keep waiting for that to happen.  Yet, here I am at thirty-nine and it hasn’t happened yet so now I have to assume it never will.  Which then makes me wonder about all the generations that came before.  Did they go through life always feeling like both?  Young at heart but wise with age? That’s not quite either but it is close enough for now, especially since this letter is for me and I know what I mean even if I can’t articulate it.

The logical answer is that yes, of course, they felt the same.  But logic isn’t always the easiest thing for me to accept.  And by that I mean, that I grew up on stories with clear distinctions with well defined endings, where the heroes were either children or adults, and have thus romanticized that.  And I feel like neither and both at the same time and that can leave me feeling out of sorts, like something is wrong with me.

Again, logically, I know that nothing is wrong with me and I need to be kinder to myself.  That’s true for all sorts of things.  I have expectations that are likely impossible to live up to and thus constantly disappointing myself even though nobody else holds me to those same standards and expectations.  Knowing this does little to curb the sting of failures and regrets.

That’s not entirely accurate anyway.  I’m hard on myself on some things and super forgiving on others… all part of the hypocrisy that is me…  Not the right word but close enough.  And I know it doesn’t really matter.

I know a couple other things too.  I have a beautiful and brilliant wife and two, going on three, children.  And know that all I really need to be happy in this crazy world is two things: my beloved mountains and family.  I’m blessed with both.

And that’s nothing to scoff off after thirty-nine years.  Or after any amount of time, really.

So, dear Jester, be kind to yourself.  Be patient.  Remember that you know what you need to be happy and let the rest slide to the side.  As best you can.  Some days you’ll do it well.  Some days you won’t.  So it goes.

Now go hug your kids and wife and tell them that you love them, including the tiny one still hidden away, and then dream of the wild places, the high places, the valleys and rivers, and snow-capped peaks that call to you.  You’ll be back among them soon enough.

You’ve got this,

Matticus

On being seven

Dear Little Prince,

What a ride?  What a journey?  What an adventure?

Yes, yes, they aren’t always good adventures… that’s not the point and I think you are now aware enough and old enough to begin to understand that.  We adventure in this kingdom.  Sometimes those adventures are fun.  Sometimes those adventures are work.  Always, always, we do it together and see our way through.  That’s at the core of being part of this family.

First grade and a pandemic.  A growing little brother that adores you and tortures you in equal measure.  Star Wars, Harry Potter (again), bike rides, hikes, math worksheets, and the never ending stream of questions.  They whys, the whats the hows, the whens.  Never ending.  Your curiosity is as fierce as it has ever been, as fierce as your confidence and stubbornness.  It is these qualities that will have you rise up to rule the world one day.  I joke but I’m serious at the same time.

You’re still a weed, getting taller and faster and stronger and learning all the time, sponging in the obscure facts from the history of the world audiobooks you listen to on repeat.  You still struggle with some lessons and most of those are the ones we all struggle with: patience, impulse control, patience, empathy and patience.  Don’t worry overly much about that, though.  In time, you’ll learn these lessons as well as any of the rest of us have.

I know I’m too hard on you sometimes and I hope you can forgive me.  I see this greatness in you and I want to get every bit of it to come out and shine.  So about that patience?  Yes, I know, it is one of my faults as well.  As I said, we all struggle with it at times.  You’ll get there.  I know you will.

You’ll get there flying on your bike and running up those trails.  You’ll get there with your lego learned engineering and artistic skills that already outstrip my own.  You’ll get there with your passion and confidence.  And then you will shine, shine, shine till I go blind from the burning brilliance and my refusal to look away, out of pride and love and my own stubbornness.

You keep being you.  Trust in that.  You’ll see.  You will move mountains, as they say.

Love you kiddo,

Daddy

Matticus

The Jester

On being three

I’m a little behind on these posts. Life in the kingdom, as everywhere, has been strange of late and the change to my routines in that strangeness took away my normal wiring time. Plus I forgot.  It happens, you know. Then I was reminded and here we are.

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Dear Littler Prince,

So this is three?  Wild and amazing and cranky and empathetic and constantly surprising.  The current state of affairs has certainly thrown what little routine you’d grown used to out the window and you just shrugged your shoulders and carried on.  Part of that is having your brother around, of course, but most of that is just who you are.  You take things in stride, come what may.  That doesn’t factor in when you are tired or hungry.  Then the raging tantrums shake the walls and rattle the windows.  That’s all part of it.  Normal.  Expected.  And perfectly fine.

Your laugh, wild like your hair and your exuberance, is perfectly fine as well.  It also shakes the walls and rattles the windows and reverberates with a joy that is nothing short of infectious.  It fills this house and bursts free at the seams.  I hope you laugh that way forever.  I hope your world continues to be so full of things to laugh at.

You took to your scooter the way your older brother took to his bike.  You zoom and swerve and fall and pick yourself back up and zoom off again.  Faster and more fearless with each passing day.  It too is a joy to behold.

Then the tantrums come and you curl your fists up and your eyes well with tears and you scream and scream and scream.  Those will pass, of course.  They always do.  In the moment and in general.  Though, perhaps I’ll miss the times when the solution to those is a hug and a cuddle, or a silly face made in passing, or any of the other little things that can often cheer you up that you will one day outgrow.  The transition will be slow but it has already begun.

I will miss those days more than you… and this isn’t about me, so I’ll move along.

What this all comes down to is you are learning (exponentially), you are growing (like a weed), you are silly (perhaps like a certain Jester), you are crazy (like all of us here) and, to overuse the word, a joy.  It’s as simple as that.

And long may that continue.

Love you kiddo,

Daddy

Matticus

The Jester

On being 3

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Dear Little Prince,

You are three!  Three!!!  When?  How?  Where?  I think scientists should study life in the kingdom to determine how to replicate time travel, because time is travelling faster than should be possible.  It is doing the laws of physics and nature and definitely the local speed limit.

To start, I should apologize for the tardiness of this letter.  I know you don’t care, and I have more excuses than would fit on this page because life in the toddlerocracy is chaos at the best of times, but you still deserve better, and will try to do better in the future.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, on to the good stuff…

I am so proud of you!  I craft words for fun and have nothing in my arsenal that comes close to accurately describing how amazing you are.  The conversations we have.  Your endless curiosity about the world around you.  The speed with which you picked up using the potty.  Your empathy.  The way you are able to cope with and enjoy the seemingly adventures in the Kingdom.  Your silliness.

Oh my, the silliness.  The giggles.  The laughter.  The dimples and mirth.  There is nothing more restorative in this world than hearing your laugh.

Thank you for your patience as the Queen and I continue to learn our parenting roles.  I fear you will need to also continue being patient for the rest of your life, but I know you will do so with aplomb.  That’s just who you are.  You can count on us to keep striving for our best as we learn and adapt.  It’s an ever changing journey for all of us.

Except, of course, for the one constant: we will always love you.

You won’t ever have to worry about that and hopefully you won’t ever have to worry about anything too serious.  Keep on playing.  Keep on laughing.  Keep on being amazing.  I know, I know, that’s all like telling the sun to keep on shining.  You are who you are: amazing.

I love you, kiddo!

Daddy / the Jester / Matticus

Two and a Half Years

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Dear Little Prince,

I called you the other day as I came out of the mountains…  Well, in truth, I called the Queen but you are ever present at her side and you took control of the phone.  And, here’s the thing, you took control of the phone. You talked to me.  I asked about your day and you answered.  You asked what I was doing and I answered.  For several minutes we exchanged thoughts transformed into words in a coherent dialogue.  My heart swelled with pride: for the person you have already grown into and the person you are going to be in a month, a season, a year…

Sometimes I steal sideways glances while you whirl by me in your tornado spin of energy, both creating and destroying simultaneously as you explore the ever expanding possibilities of imaginative play with anything and everything that falls along your path.  The hot pad turned into a frisbee.  A washcloth turned into a pizza.  All things turned into trains.  And I wonder how you can possibly be the same person I used to cradle protectively against me with one arm.  And I wonder how our house will survive you.  And I wonder…

I have to thank you for allowing me to glimpse the world as you see it, as you make it, as you want it to be.  I have the benefit of my writing to create new worlds and chronicle the exploits of my imagination, but I often can’t see those worlds come to life.  When I’m playing with you, I know you can see everything and that creative certainty helps me see as well.  See and remember and believe.  I can’t fully explain how important that is to me…

So, thank you.  Thank you for your play.  Thank you for your wide-eyed wonder.  Thank you for your shenanigans and adventure.  Thank you for your trouble-making ways.  Thank you for asking “why” every two seconds.  Thank you for tearing the house apart and then helping your mom and I put it back together.  Thank you for your memory and your thirst for learning and experiencing new things.  Thank you for being you…

I love you, Kiddo,

Daddy