Happy Birthday, Charleston! This past Saturday, we celebrated six years of life with YOU—the boy who made me a mom, and who continues to be my pride and joy and to carry my whole heart.
I don’t have the words to express how unbelievable it is that you are more-than-a-whole-hand years old, when you were literally JUST a teeny, tiny newborn pressed into the arms of a woman who had waited her whole life to become a mother, and whose deepest longings were being fulfilled with the most beautiful, miraculous son.
This past year with you has been a momentous one! Together we’ve navigated COVID restrictions and life with two younger siblings, the start of Kindergarten and learning to read, our fair share of mealtime and schooltime battles, countless crafts and picture books and rounds of cards, and so much more.
It has been an honor and a privilege to walk alongside you as you have matured this year, and I’ve delighted in watching you grow. You are kind-hearted, affectionate, thoughtful, acutely attentive to the needs of your younger siblings, and highly attuned to others’ emotions.
Being your mom and your teacher is such an expansive experience for me. You astound me with your insight and curiosity, asking more questions than I can answer and drawing the most creative and insightful conclusions. You are independent, resourceful, and filled with great ideas.
Your energy seems boundless, but while your body never stops, you somehow move slowly through life, with mealtimes that stretch on for hours and school lessons that can occupy an entire day. Thankfully, that slowness also translates to a general lack of boredom and more patience than a typical Kindergartener. And you are always quick to help, to play, or to spend time with family and friends, jumping at every opportunity for relationship and connection.
We had one such relationship opportunity in the form of a Mama/Charlie date last weekend for donuts and a VERY CHILLY trip to the playground. While you enjoyed your sugary breakfast, I engaged you in our biannual interview and you were happy to oblige with some truly wonderful responses to my questions. Not every answer was the one I expected or hoped you would give (or—in my opinion—reflective of your lived reality, haha!), but I did my best not to interject my thoughts and gave you full agency over your responses!
WHAT IS YOUR FULL NAME? Charleston Michael Jernejcic
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP? One of them is a construction site builder so I can build my own house. I would build one that’s gonna be three stories. Do they even make three story houses? They do? It will be next to a two-story house and that will be next to a one-story house and it will make stairs. Ooh, I know, I’ll be a boss of a construction site worker. Question: Do the bosses build or do they only plan? They do both? I’ll be a boss then. And then let’s say an astronaut, discover Saturn. My hope is that I can be the first person to discover Saturn. Is Saturn hot? I can’t think of anything else. Oh, and president, that too. I almost forgot all about my president plan! I think they’re gonna like one of the things I’m hoping to do for president. You know the place where we go into our neighborhood? We’re gonna put stoplights there. It sort of makes me scared when we turn. Sometimes people crash so we need some stoplights there. So that will be part of my job as president.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COLOR? Orange
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE? One of them would be Mary Poppins. And maybe Incredibles II. I think that’s all. I do have a favorite show though if you would like to know that. Would you like to know that, Mom? It’s Gravity Falls.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SONG? My favorite song? Hmmm. I’m gonna say skip. . . . [Thinking further.] Well, let’s say just worship songs. God songs, or whatever. Church songs, you know?
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BOOK? One is the snake one. [You were referring to Crictor.]
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ANIMAL? Dogs. And, what’s the kind of animal that has a super long neck? Yeah, giraffes. And cats. If I had to be a cat or a dog, I’d be a dog, because cats are afraid of dogs, you know? And who would want to be attacked by a dog?!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO LEARN ABOUT? Science at The Rock [your enrichment program]. It’s super cool and stuff and it’s important to do ’cause some science experiments are important. Like, one of the things we learned is, “how do you know if plants are dangerous?”
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE DAY? We’ll go with lunch time. It’s super important.
WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE PART OF THE DAY? Breakfast ’cause it’s long to eat.
WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT YOU DON’T LIKE? Holidays only being one time a year.
WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF BEING A KID? Being a big brother. . . .You thought I would say that, didn’t you? I WAS gonna say getting Christmas toys, but I decided to change my answer, because I want the babies instead of a Christmas toy!
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT BEING A BIG BROTHER? Seriously?! I’ve already told you that! ‘Cause the babies are a good thing to do with, to play with.
WHAT IS TOUGH ABOUT BEING A BROTHER? It’s hard to help.
WHAT IS THE WORST PART ABOUT BEING A KID? Having to do homeschool, but I like The Rock and Sports Day better.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO? My favorite thing to do on Saturdays is watch TV. Only on Saturdays, though. Not other days. On the other days I like to do stuff like activities, you know, making paper snowflakes and stuff like that.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE GAME TO PLAY? [In a whisper voice] Let’s go with video games. [Return to regular voice] Bubble Bobble and Mario.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TOY? Oooh, favorite toy is . . . the favorite toy I have so far. . . I’m gonna say is my Mario Legos and my Mario car.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO EAT FOR BREAKFAST? Something like ice cream or a donut.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO EAT FOR LUNCH? Squishy oranges. [Your name for canned mandarin oranges.] And I have another thing for lunch: cuties. Squishy oranges and cutie oranges.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO EAT FOR DINNER? Stuff like a sandwich and things like that. Let’s go with a cream cheese and turkey sandwich. What’s the kind of thing you do with cheese and stuff? Is that a turkey sandwich? Yeah, that.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO EAT FOR SNACK? I’m gonna say, let’s go with . . . you know what I’m gonna say. . . um, I forget the name. G. . . G. . . (can you guess?) Goldfish!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DRINK? Mine is juice, like apple juice and stuff.
IF YOU COULD TAKE A TRIP ANYWHERE, WHERE WOULD YOU GO? To Oma and Opa’s, from where we left.
WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT SCARES YOU? Zombies. I don’t know why they scare me, I just started to get scared by the name. That’s why I don’t play it [Plants vs Zombies] anymore. It’s okay, ’cause I like other games. You can write that down if you want.
WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU LAUGH? Jokes. Dead jokes. I can’t tell one now ’cause it has to be somewhere where I can climb on something.
WHAT MAKES YOU ANGRY? Just say skip that one. Oh, I have something to say instead of skipping it. It’s having to go to bed.
WHAT MAKES YOU FRUSTRATED? That one, you got me. Let’s say that I’m going with when I can’t go potty. You know what I mean by that, right?
WHAT MAKES YOU SAD? I just can’t think of anything. Let’s say skip right now.
WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT GOD? He can do anything! He can make it warmer.
IF YOU COULD ASK GOD ANY QUESTION, WHAT WOULD YOU WANT TO KNOW? How could He live without being born?
IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY SUPERPOWER, WHAT WOULD IT BE? That I can stick to the wall whenever I want to.
WHAT IS LOVE? Spending time with people.
WHAT ARE YOU PROUD OF? How I can hop on my foot easily. One. [Modeling with a finger.] Boing, boing, boing, boing.
WHAT IS THE FUNNIEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO YOU? Pretend I was dead, that’s one of the funniest. I did that one time when I played with Annabelle.
WHAT DO YOU WISH WERE DIFFERENT? I wish that gingerbread men were alive!
WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO? One thing that’s the most important to me is God.
WHAT MAKES YOU SPECIAL? Being a big brother, of course!
BEFORE WE’RE DONE, DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS FOR ME? What’s your favorite movie and show? [Me: Beauty and the Beast is my favorite movie, and I Love Lucy is my favorite show.] Uh huh, uh-huh, good one, good one. What is your favorite drink? [Me: Diet Dr. Pepper] Good, good. I have more: favorite . . . snack food? [Me: yogurt.] Okay, and your favorite flavor of yogurt? [Me: coconut] Oh yeah, that’s great! My next question is, what’s your favorite thing to do that is not spending time with God? [Me: reading books with you.] Awwwwww. I like that too.
Charleston, thank you for being such a great interviewee. And thank you times a million for being the most remarkable son I could have asked for. Here’s to another fun year of adventures and learning and growing together and, of course, so much love. As we say to each other every night: I love you to the moon and back!
Always and Forever,