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

one moment

Adulting is hard.

Parenting is harder.

But then there are moments where everything comes together…

Picture, if you will, a simple car ride up the street to run an errand, four-year-old ensconced in his chair in the back, and a familiar tune begins to play through the speakers.  My voice comes in to join the singer’s, as is my way, and a small voice from the backseat chimes in.  And there it is.  I’m singing in the car with the little prince.

I didn’t ask him to sing.  I didn’t force him to learn the words.  It was a familiar song, yes, one I’ve played a lot, one that I’ve sung to a lot, one he has sung to before on his own at home.  He memorized the words on his own, though, and in that moment he chose to sing with me rather than just listen, rather than telling me stop singing so he could sing, rather than telling me to stop so we could just hear the true artist.  He joined his voice, small as it was, so we would be singing together.

I don’t know that I could adequately explain why that meant so much to me, both in general and on that day and I doubt he had any idea, but I nearly cried.  I grew up singing in the car.  Some of my earliest memories are of my dad thumping a steady rock beat out on the center console while the whole car exploded with our (often terrible) singing.  Leaving that image as is, perhaps it is best to only add that music has always played a major role in who I am, from casual listener, to instrumental student, to DJ…  Music has defined many of the milestones of my revolutions around the sun.

Adulting is hard and parenting is harder and that’s okay because I’m occasionally given moments of such joy that I know all the struggles are worthwhile.  Singing in the car with the little prince was one of those moments.  I can’t wait to do that again.  I can’t wait to see what the next moment will be too.

The song ended and I turned in my seat to say over my shoulder, my voice catching a bit in my throat and my eyes straining to hold back the tears while a smile lit my face, “I love you, kiddo.”

“Why?”

Adulting is hard.

Parenting is harder.

On being a month old

My Littler Prince,

Oh, I can’t tell you how much I had forgotten about newborns.  The sounds.  The movements.  The smells – some good, some bad.  And all of it amazing.

It was shortly after the turning of the years that you decided to become a resident of the Kingdom.  It was a stormy night, dark yes but not foreboding, at the end of a stormy week.  You gave voice to your displeasure at having been forced from your previous home but quickly settled into contentedness again once you were cradled in the Queen’s arms.  Your big brother joined us all on the bed to marvel at your newness, your wild red hair, your tiny toes, and your perfection.  Our family had grown by one.

A month.  Where did the time go?  Chaotic days and interrupted nights but that’s nothing new.  That’s business as usual in the toddlerocracy.  You are growing like a weed, just like your brother did (and still does).  You are snuggly and squirmy and calm and noisy and gassy and sleepy and wide-eyed with wonder at the great world around you.  That’s the kingdom, by the way.  It isn’t perfect but it’s close and it is yours.  Yours and your brothers.

And, I can’t really say everything I want to, without some unfair comparisons to your big brother, the Little Prince.  You are angelic to his current phase of energetic destructiveness.  You have slept more in your first four weeks than he did in his first four months.  You can be put down and will happily squirm on your own where he still needs constant interaction if we don’t want him to pull down the house around us.  Unfair, I know.  I’m likely exaggerating his start to life here in the Kingdom and, regardless, you too will step up to rule the toddlerocracy one day.

Just as we will always love your big brother, despite his determination to send us closer and closer to the edge of sanity, we will always love you too.  Nothing could ever change that truth.  Nothing.  Not even when you won’t sleep in the middle of the night and I walk the hallways singing every song I know the words to, lullaby or not – you seem to like Janis Joplin, and you refuse to shut your eyes which is all it would take for you to fall back asleep.  You’ve got your parents’ stubbornness in you.  That’s good.  That will serve you well as you rise to power.  There is nothing you can’t achieve.  I may just be a Jester, but you have come from greatness all the same and you will be greater still.

Love you,

Your Daddy, Jester of the Matticus Kingdom

the true ruler

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“Oh, I’m sorry,” she might have smirked at me, “was this your speaker?”

That possibility was remote, though, as she would never consider that anything belonged to anyone but her.  Nor was she likely to ever even acknowledge my presence. Notice how she pointedly looked away from me as I took her picture.

You didn’t actually think a Jester ruled the Matticus Kingdom, did you?  Despite a certain Little Prince’s best efforts, his sudden rise to power and our quick transition into a toddlerocracy, Belle has always been the true ruler.

That’s just the way it is around here.

Then again, based on all the cat videos on the internet, perhaps it is normal to be ruled by a cat?

endless

Giggles bubble and bounce,
In time with my heart’s pulsing beat,
And the sound echoes from wall to wall,
Like a smile in search of a treat.

Beware the laughter’s pounce,
The toddler seeks to catch you unaware,
And, like an egg, have you fall, you will fall,
But in the joy you will not care.

Contagious chortles will trounce,
All plans for the day laid to waste in a pile,
Of toys, and at least one ball, there’s always a ball,
And the chaos will hit eleven on the dial.

Prepare to give away every ounce,
And then even more, of your time and energy,
When the child starts to call and call,
For all that endless playful reverie.