Friday my oldest son turned five. Which I find funny to say, because I sometimes forget he isn’t already 8 or 18.
Oh, Walden. You are a force.
“Don’t forget, my name is WALDEN!” you once called to some new friends from grandma’s pontoon, as she pulled away from the sandbar. No one will forget that, buddy.
Two months ago we dropped you off at a school filled with teachers and students who couldn’t understand a word you spoke. You were frustrated; you were so used to being the star of the playground, with a flock of children orbiting you as you organized games. So you learned to make your classmates laugh! And then you made friends as quickly as you do anywhere. Your teachers are amazed at how well you have learned to communicate given how little interest you have in actually learning Italian. Your friends tell you words in Italian and you tell them their English equivalent. So now your friends are making up Italian-derived words and calling it English.
Do you see what happened? You didn’t want to learn the language so you enabled an entire class of students to invent a new one to communicate with you! Most four year olds don’t do that, you know. Probably not five year olds, either.
Every day when we leave school “Ciao, Walden!”s trail us until we get the park, where the “Hi, Walden!”s pop up as your English-speaking friends arrive. It seems Italians bundle up and hide when the temperatures drop below 65, so you kids have the run of the place.
You’ve started drawing objects as letters of your name when you sign your drawings at school. You can read entire books. You have a huge vocabulary. You can do math. You can ride your bike like a pro. You can build complex Lego sets all on your own. You play fair and nice. You can do a million things that astound me every day!
You are bright and adaptable. That means you’re watching us carefully, learning and understanding the parenting techniques we’ve taken from books and the Internet. You study them, too, and use them against us as you do your job of testing the boundaries. But, thank goodness, you are offended at the idea that you might break the rules at school.
You’re a pretty good big brother, too. Bertie looks up to you and truly appreciates when you take the time to include him in your play, which you do a lot.
You requested spaghetti and meatballs for your birthday dinner and asked for gummy hamburgers instead of going into town for a special birthday afternoon treat (so you could stay home in sweats and build new Lego sets). Sometimes you go to the grocery store with me. You always ask for sushi and Kinder Eggs when we do, even though we never actually buy those things. You definitely seem to understand that you won’t get what you want if you don’t ask for it. Because you keep asking.
Being an extroverted child with two introverted parents must be really hard sometimes. It can be for us! But know that, no matter what, we love you for who you are and you’re our favorite five year old in the whole wide world.