Happy birthday! You are SIX years old, which you have been waiting for since the day after you turned five, just about a year ago. Congrats, dude; you made it.
This year has been crazy. So good, and so challenging, and everything in between. You finished preschool! You were named the Class Investigator, because of your never-ending need to ask what that is, who that is, why that looks that way, what that person said, what that person really meant, where you’re going next, and so on for about 80 more questions. It’s funny to see some of the same qualities you had as a baby still come out in you now. When you were about two or so, nearly every picture I took of you was you pointing and saying, “What’s that?”
At the beginning of summer, you participated in your first Try-athlon!! You swam, ran, and biked through a course while we all cheered you on from the sidelines. Your giant Batman bike helmet made it easy to spot you as you biked with your buddy, Ms. Julie, and your gigantic smile helped, too.
Over the summer, you began to learn to swim! Your hard work earned you some goggles – blue, of course; it was that day’s favorite color :) You got to go to Disney World and spend time with Nana and Papa and your aunts and uncles and cousins, and you got super tan. I was a little jealous.
The end of the summer brought the beginning of KINDERGARTEN! Man, that was weird. Kindergarten. My little mini-baby off to kindergarten. I was nervous for you, even though I had met your teacher and knew she was great. I just wanted you to love it, and to make friends, and learn a lot. And you did. You have learned a ton so far this year.
First and foremost – you learned to use the POTTY! YAY. That was a tough skill to learn, because muscle control can be so hard! But you persevered, and you did it, and all the grandparents in the world sent you underwear, and you rocked it. Plus, you look super adorable in Paw Patrol undies with your skinny little legs.
You learned to read! You are chugging right along through new books and words every day. As I sit and write this, we are fresh off a parent-teacher conference where one of your teachers described how quickly you have learned new letter sounds and words. You love to read anything and everything, including stop signs, which is super fun when I am driving. It’s also been fun to watch you sound out words from the closed-captioning on the television – talk about a win-win, am I right? And since you can say your L sounds now, it’s been even more awesome to hear you speak so clearly!
Among one of my personal favorites of the skills you acquired is the ability to dress yourself from head to toe! This one brought us tears and grumpy mornings and days where I decided you would just be naked forever and we could forget the whole thing. But, in the end, you did it. You did it – not me, or Daddy, or the OT. You did it, and you do a great job every morning. You’ve even started to pick out your own clothes – I like the combo shorts/sequin vest from dance class/mismatched socks combo the best, personally.
When I asked you and Jenna what you both wanted to do in the fall for an activity, you were adamant that you needed to play soccer. Not that you wanted to – you needed to. So we signed you up, and watched as you played your heart out every Sunday afternoon in the fall. What I loved about watching you play was that you weren’t always the fastest, or the highest scorer, but you always had the biggest smile. You loved it, and your coach worked to help you be the very best soccer player you could be for every game.
My favorite moment was during the last game, when you were practicing kicking the ball into the net. You were giving it your all, but it was taking you more timed than you wanted. You weren’t giving up, but I could tell you were frustrated. And then your team started to chant your name: Joshua! Joshua! Joshua! over and over again, and you kicked the ball into the net and they celebrated like you’d won the Super Bowl. Their joy and your joy were contagious, and everyone on the sidelines was part of the excitement in that moment. I had worried those other kids would say something mean, even by accident, about the way you moved. Instead, they showed some of the greatest kindness and compassion I’ve ever seen.
You bring that out in people.
More than anything, that’s what has stood out to me this year. Everywhere you go, people genuinely care for you. They celebrate with you, and cry with you, and cheer you on, and pray for you. That’s not because of me, or anything Daddy has done, or because of the way we raised you. It’s just you. You, and your inability to meet a stranger. You, and the smile that I can’t help but recriprocate, even if you are explaing to me why all of your dinosaurs are jammed into the vents. You have a way of making friends everywhere you go, and inspiring people to feel joyful.
It’s been cool to see you develop your relationship with Jesus. You can’t get enough of the Bible stories we read at night, and (surprise), you are full of questions about what you learned in church. It’s so crazy and amazing to watch you grow in this all on your own, eager to learn more and share it with us.
I don’t know what the next year will bring. The end of kindergarten; maybe the end of Special Education classes? Maybe you’ll learn new ways to ask questions, or maybe you’ll finally find all the answers. You’ll grow some more, just like you did this year (34.6 pounds and 3.5 feet tall as of right now!), and you’ll learn so much more, and you’ll keep turning into this big, magnificent kid who loves science and volcanoes and airplanes and fire trucks. Will you still want to be a police officer when you grow up? Will you still pronounce the word “vacation” as “bah-cation,” and still think that’s where Grammy is every time you don’t see her for more than a day? Will you still look forward to Christmas the moment the school year begins? Will you still crawl into my bed at 5:00 in the morning, whispering that you just need a snuggle before you start the day?
Only time will give us the answers to all those questions and so many more. But I do know you’ll keep growing, and learning, and asking, and loving, and smiling, and trying. You will keep reaching people in the special, inimitable way that God created you to do, and still remind me that if I expect you to try, I need to try, too. That we should all strive to be the best versions of ourselves, whatever that looks like.
Happiest of birthdays to you, Joshua, who made me a mom, who gave me my own personal miracle, who tells silly jokes and loves to rake leaves and always want to bake brownies. I love you so much. Here’s to six years of you <3
Love you now and forever,
Mom (you started calling me “Mom” instead of “Mommy” a few weeks ago – why must six be so cruel??)