On Being One, Third Time’s The Charm

My dear Littlest Prince,

You’re One!  One year old.  One full trip around the sun.  And what an amazing year it has been!

You’ve learned to sit up and crawl and walk.  And jibber jabber.  Oh man have you learned how to jibber jabber.

The Queen and I aren’t entirely sure how we wound up with three boys who never ever ever stop talking.  But, here we are.  You probably picked up it up from your big brothers.  You never stop watching them.  Some of my favorite moments have been watching you watch your big brother while he in turn is watching his big brother.  All of you learning from the original prince.

Oh, what a marvelous adventure this thing called life is.  You are learning that already.  You go exploring and, yes, you accomplish a large amount of that by shoving stuff in your mouth: rocks, sticks, shoes, food occasionally, more rocks, sand, toys…  That’s all normal.  Well, maybe not the shoe thing, but I won’t judge.  Some people are into shoes.

You also love to pick up things and carry them around or throw them.  You grab what you want, toddle around for a minute and then chuck it.  Feet and ankles beware!  You’ve got quite the throwing arm already.  And often we have to go exploring to find where you’ve hidden things: mustard bottles in the cookie sheet cupboard, shoes in with the dried cranberries, toys under the oven.  Well, actually, the toys are kind of everywhere.  That isn’t all your doing though.  Three boys and two cats…  The toys are everywhere.

So it goes.  So it is.  Everything as it should be.

What a year.  All that screaming from when you were first born, so much louder than your brothers, so much more inconsolable than they ever were too, seems so distant already.  I haven’t forgotten.  I’m not sure I ever will.  But, the sharp edges have already worn off.  You still scream of course and, often, the loudest.  But, it isn’t as bad.  I’m sure that will continue to improve and one day we’ll look back and be able to sigh with a smile over the hard early days of your life.

In the meantime, you keep doing you.  Smile.  Laugh.  Cry.  Learn.  Grow.  Blow those kisses and wave to the passing cars.  Watch those big brothers and rush to keep up with them.  I’d tell you to slow down and take your time but I don’t really think that’s an option.  You already want to be where they are.  I can’t see that ever changing.  I hope it doesn’t.

I love you, my Littlest Prince!

Love,

Daddy

Matticus

The Jester

On being eight

My dear Little Prince,

Not so little anymore, huh? 

I say, “You can’t be eight, you look twelve,” not as a joke but because some days I have no idea how you ARE only eight.  You are amazingly good with your little brothers.  You are more self-sufficient than I remember being at eight.  Admittedly, that was a long time ago but still…

You are still amazing on your bike.  And your ability and my trust in you has grown so much that we’ve started going on longer rides, including running some errands that take us on busy city streets.  You are fearless and confident on your bike.  And in most aspects of your life, actually.  That is going to take you far.

You are so inquisitive about everything.  EVERYTHING.  You ask more questions in a day than I ask in a month it seems.  I’m glad I still have the answers to most of those questions.  One of these days though we’ll be looking up the answers together.  Learning, the adventure that never ends. 

I probably don’t tell you enough how proud I am of you.  And I know I’m too hard on you at times, and I’m sorry about that.  I forget that despite how you act most days, you aren’t actually twelve.  I’m trying to curb my expectations and when I push too hard I do always eventually catch myself and apologize.  I hope you can forgive me. 

Given your insatiable inquisitive nature, your confidence, and your determination in all things, it isn’t a joke when I say, “you are going to rule the world some day.”  Perhaps that isn’t quite right?  You aren’t going to rule the world.  You are going to change it.  You are going to shape it, mold it, pound it into something better.  I can’t wait to see what that is.

Love you kiddo,

Daddy/Matticus/The Jester

So this is six months

My dear Littlest Prince,

Okay, okay, this is a little late.  I’m sorry.  You are seven months now.  Nearly eight, actually.  So it goes in our return to the toddlerocracy….

Okay, okay.  You aren’t a toddler yet.  But, maybe I wasn’t talking about you?

Oh…  It is so much fun watching you learn every day.  Sometimes you seem to have grown an inch or two after every nap.  And you always seem to have learned something new after each nap.  From crawling everywhere.  To watching your big brothers play and then doing your best to follow after them to join in their fun.  To being determined to figure out the stairs.  To pulling yourself up on every surface you possibly can.  To all the amazing babblying and bubble blowing noises and faces you make.  To the sheer joy on recognizing someone as they enter the room you are in.  You smile so big, so amazingly, so full of life and love.  It’s infectious.

Just as you are bound and determined to keep up with your big brothers in every other aspect, you are breaking their records by already having ten teeth and working on some more it seems, given the drool and the fussing.  Everything goes in your mouth.  Every  single thing you can get your hands on.  So it goes. 

I wonder what tricks you’ll learn in the next six months?  You seem like you are already working on walking.  You seem like you are just bursting to say words.  Okay, not yet.   But it is only a matter of time.

Time…  It is something there just doesn’t seem to be enough of most days.  But, your time will come.  You will learn all the things and conquer all the things to be conquered.

Your brothers will set the example there.

I can’t wait to see it.

Love you,

Daddy/Matticus/The Jester

On being four

My dear Little Prince,

So this is four?  Four trips around the sun.  Four years old…

Four years of tantrums and giggles, adventures and growth.  And this last year was exceptional for so many reasons.  You became a big brother.  You lost out on story time at Library.  You went camping for the first time.  You learned all about wearing masks.  Tantrums.  Joy.  Up and down.  Good and bad.  A year as a rollercoaster as, truthfully, most are.  Perhaps this year was more down than up?  That’s hard to say.  It was certainly different in unexpected ways.  I’ll venture that it was still a very good year for you.

And you have another good year ahead of you.  You’re going to learn so much.  You’ve already started practicing riding a bike and writing your name.  You’ve been listening in on your big brother’s math and language lessons and know some of that already as well.  This year you’ll pick up even more without even trying.  That’s a bonus of being a younger brother.  The eldest child will always be the first at everything but the younger siblings will pick up things faster because they’ve heard it before, seen it before.  I know.  I’m a younger brother myself.

Also like me, you are incredibly empathetic.  The Queen and I adore that about you.  It’s an admirable trait for sure.  It means you will have some tough days because you feel not just for yourself but for all of us.  There has been a lot to feel this year.  And, likely, that will always be true in different ways.  You’ll turn this trait into a skill you can wield to conquer worlds.  You have that charm and that fire.

It will not all be smooth sailing, of course.  You will still have your struggles.  But, they will get easier.  Each day, week, and month.  You’ll really start to get an understanding of some of the nuances that make our little family tick, and the wider world as a whole too.  And those rough patches of misunderstandings and tantrums will become fewer and farther between. 

And I can’t wait to see how different you are in another year.

Love you,

Daddy

Matticus

The Jester

Magical Life

This is the second story I submitted for the Los Angeles County Library Summer Contest. It didn’t win. I think I like it more than the one that did win, but I have always been a sucker for magic. So, what do you think?

…..

I’ve held fire in my hand, captivated by its beauty and validated by its power. I’ve felt it sear my flesh in agonizing waves of triumph. I’ve swelled with maniacal pride as the flames, enthralled by my command, tasted the air in licks and lashes. I’ve smiled in purest pleasure as I unleashed it upon my enemies to watch them dance away to ash.

That was all before, in what I have come to feel was my previous life.

It is as if I have lived two very different lives. First, I was a power-hungry wizard intent upon destroying all who dared to stand in my way of becoming the greatest to ever live. My thirst for new spells and artifacts was unquenchable. My hunger for power insatiable. I feasted on all I could find and honed myself and my craft until I was the finest sorcerer in the land.

When I was at the pinnacle of my talent, witches and wizards challenged me to duels to try to dethrone me. These were dealt with, not always easily but dealt with nonetheless. Others, too insecure in their craft or timid in their pursuit of knowledge, came to try to learn from me instead. These I turned away. I would not freely give away what had cost me my life to obtain.

I was feared and respected. I was invincible and immortal. I was everything I had ever wanted to be. And, yet, then I was shown that I had only really become everything I had thought that I wanted to be. My dream had been incomplete. There was something else, something more, that I ended up wanting even more.

She arrived on my doorstep, the friend of a friend, and, in those days, I had few enough of the latter to turn any away. She was no magician but she had her own magic to be sure. She was a temptress.

She didn’t mean to be. But she was. Every bit. And I was every bit tempted as well. In short order, the temptress turned into a companion, and a companion to a lover, and a lover to a wife.

Then came a family, one child and then a second, and those responsibilities trumped my other desires. In those early days, the magic was never far from my thoughts, of course. Having tasted its power before, I would never be rid of the want and the need for more. But my love for my wife and our children was equally strong, and putting their needs above my own was easy.

There is, I found, a certain magic to a child’s laugh and the way they bounce with joy when being held. I also found a certain magic in giving myself to another person completely, just as I had given myself to my craft. And there is a certain magic in helping someone become greater than they were before.

I hadn’t understood that, obviously, when I’d turned away all those magicians. Helping them would have helped myself as well. I had missed those opportunities. I did not, and do not, miss the chances I have to raise my children up.

…..

It has been wonderful to watch them grow into magic on their own. Both children are blessed with the gift to some degree. How much will not be determined for many years, as is normal. For now, I am delighted by their wide-eyed retelling of the minor things they accomplish through their will or accidentally through their rampant emotional outbursts. Children will be children, and with magical children that means that tantrums can be rather extraordinary and rather destructive, to their delight.

Preventing what I could and undoing the damages I couldn’t contain in time, have kept me well enough versed in my own craft. Plus, I have found it comforting on occasion to read through my scrolls and tomes to keep the magic fresh in my mind and blood, even if I’m not using it nearly as much as I once was or to anywhere near the same purpose. The thrill of use remains unchanged. If anything, the thrill has intensified because I am using it for those I love.

As for my enemies, those who were still alive before I became a family man, they have been around here and there over the years. Early on, some, emboldened by my absence, took strides to supplant me to become recognized as the greatest to ever live and practice the art of magic. I have noted their progress and, should they grow powerful enough and, perhaps, paranoid enough to think they must challenge me to really get what they are after, I will deal with them. Or someone else will.

My stepping aside created a vacuum in which the lesser magicians have scrambled for control and, in their jealous and hungry squabbles, have mostly just caused their own demise. They fight amongst themselves and plot and plan for their own gains without ever really achieving anything great. Perhaps the younger generations no longer have the stomach for what must really be done, what must really be sacrificed for the craft. I do not know, nor do I care as long as they leave my family alone.

Thankfully, none have been foolish enough to move against me directly in all these years. They either figure I am retired, or no longer a threat, or both. Perhaps I am retired in a way. I certainly no longer crave the power of new spells with the jealous fervor that once gripped my waking moments and my most vibrant dreams. The hours and days I once spent researching, obtaining, studying and perfecting new spells is now spent nurturing my loved ones. My dreams involve lifting my children to their greatest heights.

For the most part.

The odd dream still fills me with the sense of fulfillment that comes with the mastery of a spell and the dance that follows, almost always circling back to flickering flames weaving through my fingertips and reaching out from my upraised palm. I smile as I watch the oranges and reds waltz across my flesh before turning my hand upon a deserving foe. My breathing goes ragged with excitement. My eyes fly wide with anticipation. And then… And then I invariably wake.

My breathing quickly returns to normal, and my eyes are usually only half open as I struggle from the depths of the dream. No fire encircles either of my hands. The smile, however, remains, for my wife is still beside me and, in the quiet darkness, I can hear the sleepy stirrings of my children. Everything is as it should be. Everything is as I want it to be.