Dear Charleston Michael (My Very Favorite Six-and-a-Half-Year-Old),
You celebrated a half birthday last week, crossing that all-important midway point between one year and the next. I don’t know where the time has shuffled off to, evaporating into history while my gaze was turned toward the precious baby morphing into a big kid before my very eyes.
I’ve probably said this before, and I’ll likely say it again, but the shift I’ve seen in you over the last six months is one of the most dramatic we’ve experienced. You’ve navigated such significant milestones since turning six— learning to read, coming into your own as a big brother to two toddlers, fully emerging from the “Dark Year” of COVID—that for the first time in your little life, you seem older to me than your age. (I’ve caught myself telling more than a few people that you are seven. . . a reversal of my more common mistake with my kids, as I tend to de-age you guys in my mind.)
As you get older, I am increasingly intrigued by who you are and who you are becoming; just when I think I have you all figured out, you throw me a curve ball, and it’s back to square one. I never imagined this studying of my children would become such a compelling aspect of parenthood, and I find myself delighted by the challenge it presents. You refuse to fit within the boxes I would impose upon you and it is a joy to watch you blossom beyond my wildest imaginings for you.
I admire your creativity, your out-of-the-box views of the world, your logical mind, and your unique blend of independence and desire for connection. You are at once confident and tentative, fun-loving and conscientious, prone to contemplative distraction but also abounding with energy. You love God and your family with all your heart, and though you don’t always know quite how to express those big-hearted emotions, you remain committed to the cause.
I had fun sitting down with you last week to interview you for our customary biannual round of questions. Some of your answers surprised me, others didn’t because they were so clearly YOU, and the whole interview was a reminder of how blessed I am to be your mom.
What five words would you use to describe yourself?
“Can I say things instead of just words? Okay, I’m good at making messes, I’m a kid, I like to go to fun places, I want to go to Disneyland, and I want to go to Chuck E. Cheese for my seventh birthday.”
What is important to you?
“You and Daddy and Grandma and Grandpa and Oma and Opa and, you know, family. My friend Hudson is sort of kind of important, he’s a really fun friend.”
Describe your perfect day.
“I would go to Disneyland, to Legoland, to Little Land, to Chuck E. Cheese, to Urban Air, all those places.” (Me: All in one day?) “Well, maybe in two days I guess. How about two weeks.”
What makes you most proud?
“I don’t know what I can say that makes me MOST proud, but I can say what things do make me proud of myself. Finishing workbooks. That’s really the only thing I can think of.”
What is something that makes you laugh?
“I don’t know a lot of things . . . I don’t laugh, most likely, I mean, it’s not too often. You don’t have to expect me to laugh every day.” (Laughing. . . .) “Okay, you can write that part, I laughed!”
What scares you?
“Being left alone after Adventures in Odyssey, that gives me the creeps. It’s like nightmares but daydreams.” (Referring to nighttime, after you and I snuggle in your bed listening to Odyssey, when I leave you to fall asleep on you own.)
What is something about you that would surprise people?
“Can it not be a real thing? Okay, then I would say being a super hero. I mean, am I right? That’s pretty surprising!”
What are your superpowers?
“I’m super good at making a mess, I’ll tell you that. If you need a mess, I can make one for you!
Who is your hero?
“You. And daddy. And firefighters and police. Really you mostly ’cause you helped me when we saw that fire the other day, that’s why.” (Referring to our praying together when we saw a car in the neighborhood catch fire.)
What is your best memory?
“My best memory. . . I can tell you one of my best memories, my Lego magazine that I just found that has been in the drawer since the day I lost it.”
What is your worst memory?
“I don’t know if I can say it because I don’t know what it is.”
What is the bravest thing you have ever done?
“One of the bravest things I’ve ever done was seeing the fire where the truck got burned down.”
What do you look forward to?
“Going to Chuck E. Cheese for my seventh birthday, and Oma and Opa coming here for the babies’ birthday.”
How do you feel about being a big brother?
“Pretty good. Hmm, yeah, pretty good. . . I feel like I get more privileges because I’m older than the babies, which makes me feel kind of special.”
What do you like the most about our family?
“That it’s a family. I don’t know a lot of special things about our family.”
What is something you wish were different about yourself or about your life?
“That I never have to get any consequences.”
If you could only own five things, what would they be?
“Some toys, some crayons, two Mario Lego sets, the water table we have, and my fifth one is video games! Actually, let me redo that water table one, shows and movies, so just say TV.”
If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
“How about five? Ice cream, donuts, broccoli . . . nah, never mind about the broccoli . . . how about we go instead of the broccoli with squishy oranges and watermelon and apples, sorry, I meant bananas.
Where is a place you would like to go?
“Ooooooh . . . Lego Land!”
What will your life be like in thirty years?
“I will be getting ready to be president, I guess. I’ll probably be married and have kids.”
Who is somebody you want to be like when you grow up?
“You! ‘Cause you’re my best mommy.” (Leaning in for a hug and kiss.)
What is your favorite thing to do with Mom?
“Going on dates with you. Playing games with you too. There’s a lot more, but those are, like, my favorite things. I don’t want to waste too much time telling you all of them.”
What are your favorite things to do with Daddy?
“Go on date nights and him taking me to swim lessons and going to Grandma and Grandpa’s together.”
What does love mean to you?
“I don’t think I can describe that easily.”
If you could tell the world a message, what would it be?
“To not be on Satan’s team.”
Okay, that’s about it. Do you have any questions for me?
“Yeah! What food do you like best of the three I’m going to tell you: peppers, broccoli, and potatoes?” (Me: peppers. You: “Wow, that surprised me, I was sure you were going to choose broccoli.”) “I don’t think I have any more questions. Except, do you like being wet? Just kidding, I already know the answer to that, you don’t . . . so why do you take showers? You can just put a bunch of soap on yourself and not go in the water.”
Wow, what a way to end. I can’t think of a more fitting question/answer combo to sum up your personality.
Charleston, I love you to the moon and back. . . more than all the stars in the sky, than all the grains of sand, than all of the tired clichés, and then some. Happy half birthday, Bud. To infinity (or maybe just seven) and beyond!
Mommy (I kind of love that you have switched from Mom back to calling me Mommy. But maybe let’s not always do it with a baby voice?)