Sage: 52 months

This has not been an easy month.

There have been tantrums and crying nearly every day. Arguing and talking back, pouting and whining. (If I were trying to be funny, I’d say “And your behavior wasn’t much better.”)

I know that a lot of this has to do with the changes we’re still going through. We’ve moved into our own house (you love your rainbow wall, and you just got your first pet, a betta we’ve named Blueberry); I’ve been gone a few times for various things; you don’t have a lot of kids you play with regularly any more (there’s only one other kid at your daycare)… things are a little tough.

On the other hand, you still are incredibly polite; you spent a few days in Indiana with Grandma Carol and Papa, and every told us how you were saying please and thank you all the time, and giving hugs. Your sleep patterns are much better now — you stay in bed easier than you have been — and you’re trying more foods unprompted, even though you don’t like most of them.

You still blow our minds; when we were driving to Indiana, your mom pointed out to you that there were pink clouds in the sky. You said they looked like a constellation, proceeded to explain to me that a constellation was a picture you imagine in the stars, and you named a couple of them before casually dropping the knowledge that the Little Dipper has a star in it called Polaris.

You’re four.

You’ve started asking a lot of questions about God and death and sentience and at times, even the nature of reality. You remind me a lot of me. I hope that your future years aren’t filled with as much depression as mine were; we’ll know to look for it and to try to find the right way to help you.

You’re about to start playing kiddie-league soccer; I’ll be honest, I’m trying to stay positive about it even though I’m not overly thrilled with the idea. Almost every experience I ever had in any level of organized sports was a negative one, and it’s hard for me to keep a positive outlook on this, but I’m determined to try. I wasn’t sure if you’d have the focus, but then again probably neither will a lot of the other kids, and I’ve always said that what’s important is that you’re having a good time and getting exercise.

We’ve been so busy trying to organize the new house that sometimes you don’t get as much attention as we’d like to give you. I’m sorry about that. And we get so tired that each of us, at least once, has needed to apologize to you for our own attitudes.

You’re quick to forgive.

The advice that I want to give you this month… of course, be who you are is always going to be the main mantra… but the specific advice for the month is this:

Stand up for yourself.

When I was young, I always thought this referred only to physical bullying, because that’s about the only way it was ever presented on television. And often, the “hero” of the story would stand up for himself or herself by being aggressive right back to the bully — either physically or with really cutting words. And it felt good to see the bully taken down, but I always felt a bit of discomfort that the only way to “beat” a bully was to become a bit of a bully oneself. Very rarely was the “hero” shown to succeed by actually befriending the bully. But anyway… standing up for yourself isn’t necessarily about fighting back, or about creating friendship. It may just mean figuring out why someone isn’t treating you nicely, and deciding whether it’s something you want to change or not. Or, it may mean being willing to voice your opinions when you have them. It may mean refusing to go along with peer pressure, or it may mean refusing to go along with me if you really feel I’m pushing you in the wrong direction on something. It’s not something to do lightly, or you may forget to stand up for the more vulnerable around you; but sometimes, you’ll be the one who is vulnerable. When that happens, stand up. You can handle it. You’re strong.

I love you so much, Sage. Your mother and I both do. Keep being strong.

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