Normally I try to talk about a whole month when I write these letters, but this time I want to just talk about today.
You’ve gotten into a habit lately of waking up before we really want you to, and today was no exception. You let yourself out of your bedroom and came into ours. I don’t know if you went to Mommy first — you usually do, and I usually sleep through it — but you came around to my side of the bed and whispered to wake me up, telling me that you wanted to come up into the bed to snuggle.
Normally, this lasts all of two minutes before you start getting restless and trying to wake us up all the way. But today, you rested, snuggled up against my side with your head on my chest, for half an hour. I never really fully got back to sleep, but you usually stay snuggled for such short periods of time that I didn’t mind at all.
We went to church early today, because this last week we all helped plant a garden at the church. The produce that we grow is going to be donated to God’s Bounty, a local food pantry for those in need. You were very excited to help Mommy and me water the garden. You love helping out, and it shows. I explained to you today what a food pantry does, and you said you wanted to work there to help more people. I love that giving heart of yours.
After lunch, Mommy had to go to the store. You and I went out onto the front lawn and blew bubbles for a while. You blew one that went all the way up over the house, and then you whispered, “I did dat. I did dat all by myself.”
What I liked best about that was that you weren’t whispering it to me. You were whispering it to yourself. That sort of self-respect is important. It’s important to be proud of yourself, and not just to rely on others to be proud of you.
After that, you said you wanted to ride your bike. Recently, your preschool did a Trike-a-Thon to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and I went with you to help you out… and you needed a lot of help. You couldn’t go more than a few feet on your bike (with training wheels) without stopping and asking me to help you. I basically dragged your bike around the loop ten or twelve times, and you were getting bored. Since then, though, your Poppa fixed a couple parts on the bike that weren’t quite cooperating, and suddenly you’re riding it like you were born to it.
Like most modern dads, I decided to pull out my phone and to record a video of you pedaling around our cul-de-sac. I recorded you for a few seconds while you zipped around in wide circles, but then you suddenly turned too tight at a slight bump in the road, and you tipped over.
I ran to you. You had gravel on your palms and you had skinned your knee. You were crying, hard. I brushed off your hands and legs and hugged you close. I reached out and set the bike upright. You couldn’t stop crying for several seconds. I asked you if you wanted to go inside.
“NO!” you said, frowning at me, but no longer crying. “I want to learn dis!”
Before I could say anything more, you were climbing back onto the bike, and within seconds I was literally jogging just to keep up with you as you tore down the street. You didn’t fall again. You didn’t give up; you were brave. I was so proud of you!
I shared with you something I had been keeping kind of secret. I have a stash of popsicles — dairy-free, smooth, interesting flavors. They’re small — just right for you, really — but because I can’t eat much dairy (you either) and because you already had lots of sweets given to you for things like Valentine’s Day and Easter, I had kept them to myself, selfishly. I pulled out one cola popsicle and one orange cream popsicle, and we shared them both, sitting in lawn chairs and just enjoying our time together.
After that, you napped until it was time to go visit friends to celebrate your friend Joe’s third birthday. There were a total of ten kids there, and at first you preferred to spend time with Mom and me instead of playing with the others. Admittedly, the others spend a lot more time together, so you were sort of the new one in the group and they weren’t quite sure what to make of you, but eventually you had lots of fun playing with them.
Nothing scares you for long. Not learning new things, not playing with new friends, nothing.
There is not a day that goes by that you don’t manage to surprise me. (Recently, it was a day in which you [a] correctly used the phrase, “The legend says…”, [b] demonstrated that you knew what a divining rod was, and [c] clearly acted out being an old woman with a squint, a puckered mouth, and a cane. You’re THREE. Other kids your age aren’t doing that. This is not a knock on the other kids; if you’re anything like me, which I’m suspecting you are, you’ll find yourself lagging behind them on other things a bit later in life.)
You make me feel like I must be the best dad ever. I doubt that I am; I know the sort of mistakes that I make. But with days like today — you were loving, you were kind, you were generous, you were brave! — I can’t help but feel pride.
More than ever, I want you to be who you are, because the more I get to see your personality develop, the more I know that you’re the sort of person the world needs more of. Be who you are.
And my other advice for this month: Never stop wanting to learn. Believe in yourself the way you did today. A failure, even a painful one, is not the end. It’s okay if some days you need to back off and lick your wounds; you didn’t have to do that today, but the skinned knee isn’t even the worst you’ve had. But don’t give up. Be brave. Be committed. You can do it. I believe in you, because I’ve seen what you can already do at this age.
I love you with all my heart, Sage. Your mother and I both do. We love you lots and lots!